Li Haotong produced a brilliant 67 on Saturday to take a three-shot lead into the final round of the BMW International Open.
The Chinese star has been in sensational form all week at Golfclub München Eichenried as he goes in search of a third DP World Tour crown, and first since 2018.
Despite following up Thursday’s course record-equalling 62 with a 67 on Friday, Li led by just one stroke at the end of each day but it was a different story after the third round as his 20-under-par total handed him a healthy advantage with 18 holes remaining.
A series of magical moments helped Li pull away from the field on moving day, including a chip-in eagle at the 6th and a miraculous recovery shot on the 15th which had him make a birdie despite sending his tee-shot a long way left.
Belgian Thomas Pieters made an eagle and four birdies in a flawless 66 to sit alone in second place on 17 under, one shot ahead of Jordan Smith.
Louis Oosthuizen is the best-placed South African, on 12 under, with Wilco Nienaber and Daniel van Tonder both on 11 under.
Li got off to the perfect start on day three as a beautiful iron shot set up an opening birdie from seven feet.
After his tee-shot at the par-four 5th came up just short of the green, the 26-year-old chipped to within three feet and knocked in the birdie putt to get to 17 under par.
Having missed the fairway at the long 6th, Li could not find the green in two and was actually fortunate his ball stayed on the bank rather than rolling back into the water.
He made the most of his lucky break, chipping in for an extraordinary eagle – his third in a row at the 6th this week – to move to 19 under and open up a four-shot lead.
Li came close to converting his 35-foot birdie try at the next hole but it stopped just short of the hole.
He was unable to birdie the short 8th despite sending his tee-shot to 10 feet, but closed his front nine with a gain to get to 20 under.
An errant tee-shot at the 10th led to Li’s first bogey of the day and he had to settle for a par at the par-five 11th after clearing the green with his approach shot.
After watching his playing partner Ryan Fox find the water at the short 12th, Li went for the safe option and two-putted from 22 feet for a par.
Li’s first birdie of the back nine arrived at the 13th as he holed from 15 feet to open up a five-shot lead.
But a second dropped shot came along at the 14th after Li was unable to get up and down from a bunker.
It looked like things were perhaps starting to unravel for Li when he sent his tee shot at the 15th way left, but he managed to lift his second shot up over the trees to inside 13 feet and sink the putt for the unlikeliest of bounce-back birdies.
Li gave himself a 30-foot eagle chance at the par-four 16th but had to settle for a birdie there, and he produced a good par save at the next to stay on 21 under.
But there was difficulty ahead at the 18th as he got into trouble off the tee before clipping the trees with his third shot.
He managed to limit the damage to just one dropped shot and sign for a 67.
– Report from DP World Tour website