Rumford leads by 1 after 69 at China Open

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Brett Rumford of Australia tees off at the Binhai Lake Golf Club in Tianjin, China on May 4, 2013.

Brett Rumford is one round away from becoming only the third Australian to win back-to-back tournaments in the 41-year history of the European Tour.

Rumford shot a 3-under 69 in windy conditions yesterday during the third round of the China Open in Tianjin to move to 12 under, one stroke clear of Mikko Ilonen (73). The Finn led by three shots at the halfway mark.

The Australian ended a six-year drought by capturing the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea last week.

"It was a really tough day and a very tiring day, and I really started to feel it on the back nine," Rumford said. "Things were starting to catch-up and I would have come across looking perhaps like a wet fish as I was just not in the mood to be playing golf. But I hung in really, really nicely as there was some really tired golf swings out there today, and I could feel the lethargy in my body.

"So tonight I will be doing my best to recover for tomorrow. But I did well to hang in there, and mentally I stayed with it but not physically."

Jack Newton and Graham Marsh are the only two Australians to have won consecutive events on tour. Newton captured the 1972 Dutch Open and then the Benson and Hedges Festival, while Marsh claimed the 1977 Colgate World Match-Play followed by the Lancombe Trophy.

Pablo Larrazabal of Spain is next at 10 under after shooting a 69, making four birdies in a row from No. 10 but dropping two shots in his last five holes.

Former Ryder Cup player Paul Casey of England, the 2006 China Open champion, bogeyed four of his closing six holes to shoot 72 and sit seven shots off the pace. Dou Ze-cheng, the 16-year-old Chinese amateur, also hit a 72 for a share of 30th place on 2 under.

In Jakarta, unheralded Daisuke Kataoka of Japan signed for a 6-under 66 yesterday to take a one-shot lead over Ernie Els and Bernd Wiesberger into the final round of the Indonesian Masters.

Kataoka, 24, birdied the final two holes for an 11-under total of 205 while Open champion Els of South Africa shot a 68 and Austrian Wiesberger a 67 at the US$750,000 Asian Tour event.

Kataoka's 66, which included eight birdies and two bogeys, was the lowest round of the day and saw him lead an Asian Tour tournament for the first time since turning professional in 2007.

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