Golf: Thongchai in the lead in Shanghai, poised to clinch 2nd European Tour win of season

Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand gestures with the ball after a shot on the 18th hole.
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand gestures with the ball after a shot on the 18th hole.PHOTO: REUTERS

Shanghai (AFP) - Thongchai Jaidee is in pole position to claim his second European Tour victory of the season after a third-round 66 gave him a one-shot lead in the BMW Masters on Saturday.

The ex-Thai army paratrooper, who turned 46 this week, started with a birdie blitz at Lake Malaren. He held on to his lead at 15-under as several of the biggest names in the game charged up the leaderboard on a day of low scoring.

Thongchai was three behind overnight leader Lucas Bjerregaard at the start of play in Shanghai but quickly wiped out the deficit with five birdies to go to the turn in 31.

Denmark's Bjerregaard had a two-under 70 and lies tied second alongside Spain's Sergio Garcia (67) and South Korea's An Byeong Hun (66).

"I have pretty good confidence after winning in Germany (at the European Open in September)," said Thongchai.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy looks as if he could retain his lead at the top of the Race to Dubai heading into next week's season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

He chose not to play this week, leaving himself vulnerable to his nearest challengers.

But Danny Willett, who is second in the standings, had a round of 70 which left him in a tie for 27th. That would leave the Englishman just 3,900 points short of being able to leapfrog the Northern Irish world number three.

World number six Justin Rose had an improved five-under 67 on Saturday which took him to 10-under for the tournament, five off the lead.

He needs to finish at least second on Sunday to knock McIlroy off his perch at the top of the standings.