TIANJIN, China (AP) – Branden Grace of South Africa shot an 8-under 64 and has a three-shot lead after three rounds of the China Open on Saturday.
The 23-year-old South African moved to 18-under 198, three shots ahead of defending champion Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.
Grace started the third round one shot off the lead, but gained four shots in three holes, sinking a 15-foot eagle putt on the sixth green.
On a day of light winds and low scoring, Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay also shot a 64 to move to 14 under, four strokes back. Alexander Noren of Sweden had a 63 to join four other players at 13 under.
Grace is looking for his third victory on the European Tour in 2012 having already won the Joburg Open and Volvo Golf Champions tournaments in South Africa in January.
Grace's confidence is high after having beaten major winners Retief Goosen and Ernie Els to win The Champions on a very similar course at Fancourt in South Africa.
“I can draw from experience,'' said Grace who had seven birdies in his round and only dropped one shot when he three-putted on the 14th green.
“I am feeling really positive after getting my first two wins early in the year and just wanting to keep on pushing on from there. The difference all this year has been that I have been holing more putts.
“But this course here in China is very similar to Fancourt. It is long has the same links feeling about it and I am getting the same feelings.''
Colsaerts, trying to defend the title he won last year and playing alongside Grace, started slowly but four birdies on the back nine allowed him to shoot a 6-under 66.
Noren's 9-under 63 was the lowest round of the day. He was joined at 13 under by France's Jean Baptiste, who had held a share of the halfway lead, but dropped back with a 2-under 70.
The other overnight leader, Gary Boyd of England, started his third round by dropping two shots in three holes. He had a 71 and was six shots behind Grace.