SHANGHAI (Reuters) - American-born Frenchman Alexander Levy continued his brilliant form when he carded nine-under-par 63 and surged to a four-stroke lead after the third round at the BMW Masters on Saturday.
Levy, the son of two pharmacists, conjured up a special formula of his own to rattle off nine birdies for a 22-under 194 total with one round left on the rain-softened Lake Malaren course.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson (62), boosted by a late eagle, vaulted into second place on 18-under, with German Marcel Siem (65) another stroke behind in third place.
Halfway leader Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium shot 73 to plunge nine strokes off the pace.
Levy, 24, seeking his third victory of the season on the European Tour, improved to 40-under in his past five rounds of stroke play (including two at the Portugal Masters which he won), an impressive achievement notwithstanding the ideal scoring conditions at both events.
“I played an amazing round,” the world number 74, who was not even ranked in the top 300 at this time last year, told reporters.
“I was not surprised but it was fun. It’s true I am confident and I need to enjoy this moment and do my best tomorrow and try to do the same job.”
Levy said he enjoyed ‘target golf’ -- the type played on soft courses where players can aggressively fire at pins in the knowledge the ball will stop quickly.
“When the greens are a bit more firm, it’s not my best,” said the man whose boyhood golf idol was Tiger Woods but these days most admires current world number one Rory McIlroy.
Donaldson, barely a month removed from clinching victory for Europe at the Ryder Cup, enjoyed another magic moment when he holed a nine-iron from 142-yards at the par-four 16th to jump into second place.
“It pitched just past the hole and spun back and went in,” said Donaldson.
Levy started the day one stroke behind Colsaerts, but quickly took the lead with a hat-trick of birdies from the first hole.
Two pars that followed proved merely to be a brief interlude between the birdie feast in languid conditions on an overcast autumn day.
At the par-three sixth, he was not distracted by the construction cranes moving in the line of his putt, calmly rolling in a curling 40-footer that prompted him to raise his arms in celebration and turn towards his caddie as the gallery let out a collective roar of approval.
“When you hole a putt like that you are a little bit surprised, but it was a good putt,” he said.
Even better followed at the par-four 10th, where he nearly holed a wedge, setting up the first of four back-nine birdies that kept him clear of the chasing pack.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly