Benjamin Herbert in the running for China Open after birdie spree

Benjamin Herbert in the running for China Open after birdie spree

A spectacular burst of scoring vaulted France's Benjamin Hebert into contention for a first European Tour title in the weather-disrupted Volvo China Open on Saturday.

Hebert began the third round at Topwin Golf and Country Club six shots off the lead, but raced to the turn in just 29 shots to join Chile's Felipe Aguilar and Sweden's Alex Noren at the top of the leaderboard.

Starting on the back nine, Hebert eagled the short par-four 11th and followed that with five birdies in the next seven holes to raise the prospect of the first 59 in European Tour history.

Aguilar, who had held onto the halfway lead when the second round was completed on Saturday morning, had birdied the first to also move to 12 under par, while Noren had picked up shots on the first and third.

First-round leader Hennie Otto, Germany's Marcel Siem and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard were a shot further back, Bjerregaard having holed his approach to the third for an eagle two.

Hebert's chances of breaking the magical 60 barrier suffered a major blow with a bogey on the first and although he bounced back with a birdie on the fourth, another dropped shot on the next meant he was now four shots off the lead.

That was because Aguilar had holed from 40 feet for birdie on the fourth before picking up further shots on the fifth and eighth to reach 15 under par, one shot ahead of France's Gregory Havret and England's Richard Bland.

Havret, who finished runner-up to Graeme McDowell in the 2010 US Open, had covered the front nine in 32 and also birdied the 10th and 11th, while playing partner Bland carded four birdies in a row from the fifth and also birdied the first two holes on the back nine.

Noren had recovered from a double bogey on the fifth, where he found three separate bunkers, with a birdie on the seventh and an eagle from just eight feet on the eighth to reach 13 under, only to bogey the ninth after topping a fairway bunker shot.

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