Japanese star Hiroyuki Fujita broke away from the chasing pack in the third round at the Beijing Open after firing an even-par 72 under tough conditions yesterday.
The Fukuoka-born leader battled through the wind swept conditions at Pine Valley Golf Club for a six-stroke advantage over the elite field.
Thai young gun Chinnarat Phadungsil eagled the par five 13th hole on the way to a 76 in a tie for second spot together with Shinichi Yokota who shot a 69.
Compatriot Shintaro Kai was even par for the day alongside Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Prayad Marksaeng who carded a 68 and 72 respectively in joint fourth place.
Fijian Dinesh Chand recorded his second straight 69 also in a tie for fourth place alongside England’s Simon Griffiths who was even-par for the day for a 211 total.
Overnight leader Fujita, a five-time winner on the domestic circuit, posted a 72 on a day where scores tumbled due to the windy conditions at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
“The wind was extremely strong and I tried to stay even-par. I am definitely very happy with my current position at the top. But it is expected to rain tomorrow so I will adopt a safe approach,” said the 39-year-old Fujita, who produced a total of 12-under-par 204 in the one million event sanctioned for the first time by the Japan Golf Tour alongside the Asian Tour and China Golf Association.
Fujita was also the former chairman of Japan Golf Tour Players’ Club in 2005 and 2006.
Yokota, 36, was five under through 17 holes but endured a late double bogey at the closing 18th hole for a 69.
“There is rain expected for tomorrow which would make for a very exciting final round. There is a lot to play for with the rain coming so we shall see how it turns out,” Yokota said.
Chinnarat, with two top finishes on the Asian Tour, kept his title hopes alive when he holed an eagle at the 13th hole for a 76.
Taiwan’s Wang Ter-chang, who was lying third at the start of the day slipped back to joint-fifth after shooting a round of 78. Compatriot Lin Wen-tang was a stroke behind in joint-sixth.