Brett Rumford (Getty Images)
Brett Rumford maintained his lead over the opening holes of the Volvo China Open final round as the Australian bid to land consecutive European Tour titles.
Last week’s Ballantine’s Championship winner started the day one shot ahead of Finland’s Mikko Ilonen, and it stayed that way over the first four holes as both players in the final group made three pars and a routine birdie at the long second.
That left 35 year old Rumford on 13 under for the week, one ahead of Ilonen – who was bidding for a first European Tour title since 2007.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal was three shots off the lead in third, with France’s Victor Dubuisson and Dutchman Joost Luiten tied for fourth on nine under.
Rumford suddenly pulled clear with birdies from 12 and eight feet at the fifth and sixth, while Larrazábal’s hopes were dealt a huge blow with a triple bogey seven at the seventh.
Three straight pars kept Rumford at 15 under to the turn, but Ilonen closed the gap to two immediately on the back nine with a birdie at the tenth.