Branden Grace leads Volvo China Open

Amazing Grace moves three shots clean in China with eight-under round

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UPDATED:

10:29 GMT, 21 April 2012

Volvo China Open

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South African Branden Grace took a strong grip on the lead in the Volvo China Open after a sparkling eight-under-par third round of 64.

The penultimate day of a tournament is known as 'moving day' as players bid to put themselves in position for a tilt at the title, and that was certainly borne out in benign conditions in Tianjin.

Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay emulated Grace's 64, the bogey-free round taking him into third, a shot behind Nicolas Colsaerts.

Amazing Grace: The South African is three shots clear

Amazing Grace: The South African is three shots clear

Grace's compatriot George Coetzee and Sweden's Alexander Noren surged from well off the pace to share fourth place on 13 under after rounds of 64 and 63 respectively.

But overnight leaders Gary Boyd and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet failed to build on their strong starting position. While Gonnet's 70 kept him in touch with the leaders, Boyd could only manage a one-under 71 and slipped to a share of ninth place on 12 under.

Grace was five under for the front nine, picking up a shot at the second before two further birdies sandwiched an eagle at the sixth.

His only dropped shot came with a three-putt at the 14th but he bounced back with a superb pitch to close range at 15 as he birdied three of the last four.

Defending champion Colsaerts was less spectacular but a tidy 67 kept him within three shots of the lead.

In contention: Fabrizio Zanotti

In contention: Fabrizio Zanotti

The Belgian had two birdies on the front nine and four more after the turn, though his par on the 17th will have felt as satisfying as any of them after an excellent escape from a bunker.

The diminutive Zanotti hit the ground running with three birdies in the first four holes and another before the turn. Further pairs of birdies at 12 and 13 and then the last two holes meant he had climbed 14 places on the leaderboard.

Coetzee bounced back from a dropped shot at the second with four successive birdies from the fifth and four more in the last five holes.

And Noren's nine-under-par total, the best of the day, featured six birdies in the last seven holes, his only blemish coming with a bogey four at the short third as he jumped 25 places up the standings.

Moving day: Grace is the overwhelming favourite going into the final day

Moving day: Grace is the overwhelming favourite going into the final day

Boyd was one of the few players not to capitalise on good scoring conditions, throwing away his opening birdie with back-to-back bogeys.

The pattern was repeated from the 12th but a birdie-birdie finish salvaged the round somewhat.

Gonnet was two under for the front nine but made pars all the way home, the last coming despite a wayward second shot which struck a disgruntled female spectator.

He therefore closed on 13 under, level with Coetzee, Noren, Spaniard Ignacio Garrido (67) and Australia's Marcus Fraser, who responded to his only bogey at 16 with the fifth and sixth birdies of his round.

Among the British contingent, Richard Finch was a shot behind Boyd at 11 under with Danny Willett a further shot back and Scotland's Paul Lawrie at nine under.