Li Haotong gave Chinese fans plenty to cheer about as he put his name in lights at the 20 million yuan Volvo China Open today.
The 18-year-old Hunan-born professional shot a five-under 67 to finish the third round at seven-under, in a tie for eighth place and nine shots off leader Alexander Levy as the Frenchman continued his hot form at the Genzon Golf Club.
“I am very happy and want to keep my name up on the leaderboard,” said Li, who turned pro at the tender age of 15.
“I have learned a lot in past three years, not only golf skills but how to treat it as a game and how to act as a professional.
“I am ready for whatever it throws at me tomorrow,” he said, stressing that he could cope with the pressure and expectations after matching the lowest round of the day.
Li, a prolific winner as an amateur, has a best finish of equal fifth at the New Zealand PGA Championship in Queenstown last year. He finished in a tie for 13th at the Indonesian PGA Championship last month.
Chinese number one Liang Wenchong (70-74-69) finished his third round at three-under and Wu Ashun (69-74-73) at par.
Levy, who started with a four-shot lead, held that advantage through the first nine holes, but had his lead cut to three shots by Alvaro Quiros at the end of the day. Levy stood at 16-under with a three-round total of 200.
Levy, who shot a 10-under 62 on Friday, could not match that but was "happy" with a two-under 70.
"My target was to do a good job, like the first two rounds, but it was difficult with the rain coming," Levy said. "It was tough to stay focused, but I kept my mind in good condition and played some good shots.
"I’m happy with my round today. I’ll sleep nicely because I’m tired. It was a long day and with the weather and difficult golf course."
Four shots back is Finland's Mikko Illonen at 12 under, with Tommy Fleetwood (England) and Adrian Otaegui (Spain) at 11 under.
US PGA champion Jason Dufner had his best round of the week – a three-under 69 – to be in a tie for 31st at a three-under total of 213.