Terengganu: Thailand’s Atthaphon Sriboonkaew signed for the day’s lowest score of five-under-par 66 to move into a share of lead with compatriot Panuwat Muenlek in the penultimate round of the PGM Terengganu Championship on Friday.
Starting the round one shot off the pace, Atthaphon fired one eagle and four birdies against a lone bogey to match the efforts of overnight co-leader Panuwat, who posted a 67 for a three-day total of eight-under-par 205, at the Resorts World Kijal.
The leading duo holds a two-shot advantage over Shane Smith of the United States, who sits in third place following a 69, while Finland’s Janne Kaske (69) and Itthipat Buranatanyarat (68), also of Thailand, settled for fourth on 208 at the RM200,000 (approximately US$55,400) event.
Japan’s Masaru Takahashi, who held a share of the overnight lead, slipped to sixth place on his own after matching his opening round efforts of a 71. Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing and Australian Jordan Sherratt stayed a further shot back in seventh place on 210.
Atthaphon, who is chasing for a breakthrough victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), was pleased to push himself into contention for the first time on the burgeoning Tour.
“I think I was really lucky today. I hit many quality shots especially with my irons and I putted well. It has been pretty enjoyable this week. I just hope I can continue to enjoy my game tomorrow,” said the affable 36-year-old Thai, who scored an eagle on the par-five ninth hole after hitting his second shot to the edge of the green and chipping in from about 16 yards.
“It’s going to be fun tomorrow. You just got to keep hitting fairways and greens as that’s the key to play well on this course. My aim is to finish in top-five on the Order of Merit to earn my Asian Tour card at the end of the season. Hopefully a win tomorrow will get me there,” added Atthaphon.
Panuwat wielded a hot putter to capitalise on his overnight lead as he continues to chase for a maiden ADT victory.
“I putted nicely and my iron-play was good. My game has been pretty good so far. I practiced a lot before coming here. I have never played this course before so I am pretty much happy with how I have performed so far,” said Panuwat, whose otherwise perfect round of six birdies and 11 pars was marred by a double bogey on the par-five 15.
“It’s not an easy course. It’s difficult to read the greens out there. I missed my tee shot on the 15th as I hit it too far right but managed to recover quickly with two birdies in my last three holes. It’s going to be pretty much the same things for me tomorrow. I am looking forward to the final round already,” added the 29-year-old Thai.
The ADT will reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
Leading third round scores:
205 – Atthaphon SRIBOONKAEW (THA) 68-71-66, Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 70-68-67
207 – Shane SMITH (USA) 68-70-69
208 – Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA) 68-72-68, Janne KASKE (FIN) 72-67-69
209 – Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) 71-67-71
210 – LAM Chih Bing (SIN) 72-69-69, Jordan SHERRATT (AUS) 72-68-70
212 – Sejun YOON (USA) 73-70-69, Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN) 67-73-72, Jack MUNRO (AUS) 69-70-73