Shenzhen: Little-known young Chinese golfer Chen Guxin is threatening to record a shock victory in the US$1.5 million Volvo China Open after carding a six-under-par 66 to take the third-round lead on 14-under yesterday at Hidden Grace Golf Club in Shenzhen.
The 20-year-old, currently in lowly 114th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM), finished the third round three ahead of a resurgent Sarit Suwannarut from Thailand, who returned a joint best of the day 65, and China’s amateur sensation Ding Wenyi, last year’s US Junior Amateur champion, in with a 67.
Overnight leader Eugenio Chacarra from Spain surprisingly slipped to a 73 and was tied fourth on eight under in a five-man group still within touching distance.
The LIV Golf League star is joined by Australian John Lyras, who birdied five out of the last six to shoot a 67, Taiwan’s Hung Chien-yao who hit a 66, Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman with a 69, and Berry Henson from the United States, who signed for a 70.
Chen was playing on the Asian Development Tour last year, where he won two events and finished fifth on the OOM to earn his Asian Tour card for this season. Wearing his trademark wide-brimmed cricket hat, Chen is on track for the tournament of his life after a brilliant round made up of seven birdies and just one bogey on 18, following a three-putt.
He began the day one back from the leader Chacarra before a four-under-par front nine with birdies on two, four, six, and nine saw him make the turn with a one-shot lead. Birdies on 10, 12 and 17 saw him move four ahead before he three putted from 30 feet on the last.
The top-65 on the OOM keep their Tour cards for 2024 and with just five events remaining, including this week, Chen has chosen the right time to kick start his season. He has played 10 events this season, recorded a best finish of joint 14th in the DGC Open, and missed four cuts.
He is also very aware of the threat that his Asian Games teammate Ding poses.
“He has everything. He can drive far, hit great iron shots and putts brilliantly,” said Chen.