Clarke joins Liang at the top at China Masters golf

Darren Clarke joined defending champion Liang Wen-chong on top of the leaderboard at the Nanshan China Masters after firing a four under par 68 on Saturday.

Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland hits a shot during official practice for the China Masters in China's Shandong Province on October 8, 2013

The 2011 British Open winner and China's number one golfer shared the top spot at eight under, after Liang continued his fine form in the tournament with a two under on day three.

Liang was leading going into the third round after he fired an eight under par 64 on Friday.

Charl Schwartzel, who won the Masters in 2011, was three off the leaders in sixth place.

Northern Ireland's Clarke has struggled since winning the Open, but he said he was not feeling any extra pressure at the Nanshan International Golf Club's Montgomerie course in the eastern province of Shandong.

"There is pressure in any event -- it doesn't matter whether it's the Open Championship or here at the Nanshan China Masters," he said, according to a report released by the organisers.

"I've practised really hard these last couple of years since I've won the Open and just not been able to get the scores."

He said he would be "delighted to win" when the tournament concluded on Sunday, adding: "But there's 18 holes of golf to go and a lot of talent there or thereabouts at the top of the leaderboard."

Liang won last year's tournament in gripping style, playing the 18th with South Korea's Y.E. Yang five times before coming out on top.

He said he was ready to compete with Clarke for the title going into the final day.

"He is a very respected player and as the local I'm ready to face his challenge and will try my best to play well," Liang said.

Third round (par 72)

208 - Liang Wen-chong (CHN), Darren Clarke (NIR)

210 - Zhang Xinjun (CHN), Kwon Sung-yeol (KOR), Scott Strange (AUS)

211 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Gareth Paddison (NZL)

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Writer: AFP
Position: News agency