Dylan Frittelli will take a three-shot lead into the final day of the Volvo China Open after continuing his excellent recent form in Beijing. From The European Tour
The South African missed three of his first four cuts this season but has been a picture of consistency since, achieving a season’s best tie for fifth at last week’s Shenzhen International.
He tied the course record with a 63 at Topwin Golf and Country Club on Friday and followed that up with a 64 to get to 19 under on a day when Beijing hit temperatures of 35 degrees – the hottest day on record for April.
Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal was his nearest challenger after a 70, with Frenchman Alexander Levy then at 12 under.
Challenge Tour graduate Frittelli is going in search of his first European Tour title and will enter Sunday brimming with confidence after recording 39 bogey-free holes.
Larrazábal hit a beautiful tee-shot into the par three second and after holing a short but slippery one down the hill, his overnight lead was up to four shots.
There was a two-shot swing on the fourth after a lengthy delay as Levy looked for a ball and while the 2014 champion made a double-bogey, Frittelli – after a long wait on the fairway – put his approach close for a birdie.
Larrazábal also found the putting surface but he needed three attempts to get down and the lead was down to two.
After a pair of pars on the fifth from the final group, Frittelli put his tee-shot to the sixth to 12 feet and when he rolled in the putt, he was hot on the heels of Larrazábal.
The second two-shot swing of the day came on the seventh as Larrazábal three-putted from distance and with Frittelli holing from six feet, he was the man to catch.
The 26 year old then took advantage of the par five eighth but Larrazábal hit back on the tenth.
Frittelli made another birdie on the 11th but Larrazábal followed him in – prompting a fist-pumping celebration – and when both men birdied the par five 12th, they were pulling away from the field.
Another birdie from Frittelli on the short par four 15th extended the lead to two shots and when he got up and down brilliantly from the sand for a par on the next with Larrazábal making a three-putt bogey, the lead was three shots.
Both men then birdied the last, with Frittelli getting a fortunate bounce off the stands on his approach.
Levy recovered from that double-bogey with birdies on the eighth, 11th and 15th in a 71.
England’s Chris Wood fired an excellent 65 with just a single bogey to get to 11 under, a shot clear of South Korean Kyong-jun Moon and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Moon was bogey-free in a round of 66 while last week’s winner Bernd Wiesberger fired a 69.
Ross Fisher had set the early pace with a 64 that moved him to nine under and included a hole-in-one.
The Englishman holed his tee-shot with a pitching wedge on the 128 yard sixth hole for the 15th ace of the European Tour season.
Home favourites Li Haotong and Yi Cao were also nine under alongside South African George Coetzee and South Korea’s Soomin Lee.