Felipe Aguilar and Lucas Bjerregaard share lead in China
Low-scoring continues as pair finish on 16 under in Beijing
Felipe Aguilar of Chile plays a bunker shot during the third round of the Volvo China Open at Topwin Golf and Country Club in Beijing. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Aguilar held a one-shot lead after the conclusion of the weather-delayed second round on Saturday morning and added a 67 in round three to finish 16 under par at Topwin Golf and Country Club.
However, Bjerregaard carded an eagle and five birdies in a flawless 65 to join Aguilar at the top of the leaderboard in pursuit of his first European Tour title.
Former champion Nicolas Colsaerts birdied seven of the last 14 holes to match Bjerregaard’s 65 and lie two shots off the pace alongside China’s Li Hao-tong, England’s Tyrrell Hatton and Sweden’s Alex Noren.
Aguilar had missed the cut in six straight events before finishing tied 58th in the Shenzhen International last week and admitted completing an Ironman triathlon over the winter had taken its toll.
But the 41-year-old has rediscovered his top form in Beijing with 20 birdies and just four bogeys so far, thanks partly to the generosity of a fellow player.
“My putting is my weakest part of my golf game,” Aguilar said. “It’s been very poor for the last six months and I switched putter this week and that was thanks to Fabrizio Zanotti.
“I went in his bag and took his putter. He was kind enough to let me use it and I think that’s been the biggest difference, that I’ve made some putts that I really needed to make.
“You have so many players out here who can shoot a low score and tomorrow somebody who wins is going to have to shoot a low score. Hopefully it will be me.”
Bjerregaard came close to his first victory at the end of last season with five top-10 finishes in eight events, most notably narrowly losing out to former US Open champion Justin Rose in the Hong Kong Open.
“I had a couple of good runs at the end of last year so I’ll try and use all the experience I got there and try and go out and finish it off tomorrow,” the 24-year-old said.
“I played nicely today and got things going a little bit on the third and holed a six iron from 160 metres, but other than that the front nine was pretty quiet. I hit some good shots on the back nine and made some putts as well, then I thinned my chip shot over the green on 17 and then made the putt from there so all in all a very good day.”
Hatton is also seeking a first European Tour title and recovered from a bogey on the first to card a second consecutive 67.
“I hit a horrible tee shot at the first, a three wood into the water which is a nightmare start, but I gave myself some good opportunities early on and then I holed that really long eagle putt at eight, which you don’t see go in often,” Hatton said. “That kickstarted the round and it was a good score in the end.
“I’ve been putting really well this week so if I can give myself a few opportunities tomorrow, hopefully I can then take them.”
Gregory Havret, who finished runner-up to Graeme McDowell in the 2010 US Open, was three shots off the lead after a 67, with England’s Richard Bland and former Ryder Cup player Peter Hanson part of a four-strong group on 12 under.
Benjamin Hebert had been 12 under after just nine holes of his third round, the 29-year-old Frenchman starting on the back nine and racing to the turn in just 29 shots to claim a share of the lead.
That raised the prospect of Hebert recording the first 59 in European Tour history, but three birdies and one bogey on the front nine meant he had to settle for a 67 to finish 10 under.