All three players have been in good form of late. Manassero of course won a playoff to claim the BMW PGA Championship title last week at Wentworth, Ilonen finished runner-up at the Volvo China Open and 12th last week at Wentworth and Whiteford, although number 268 in the world and a little inconsistent, finished runner-up at Ballantines tournament in Korea a few weeks ago.
Manassero added a 65 to his opening 66 while for both Ilonen and Whiteford they made a huge jump on the leaderboard with rounds of 63.
The defending champion Alexander Noren and the improving Francesco Molinari are in 5th and 7th position respectively and loom as major threats to those ahead on the leaderboard.
The leading Australians are Richard Green and Andrew Dodt who both just crept inside the cutline while New Zealander Michael Campbell made his first cut in his last eight starts when he too finished right on the cut mark.
Andrew Dodt manged to just make the cut courtesy of two holes in one in the same round, the first time on the European Tour such a feat has been recorded, at the 7th and 11th holes although the second and 16th holes of his round.
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.