Rekindled Nitithorn sets blistering pace in Mandiri Indonesia Open


Jakarta: Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong made a strong claim on the winner’s trophy at the Mandiri Indonesia Open today, posting a score of five-under-par 67 to secure a five-shot lead going into the final round.

Nitithorn started the day in second place after rediscovering his form with a bogey-free round of 65 yesterday. He dropped two shots during the third round today, but seven birdies were enough to consolidate his lead over Chang Wei-lun (69) of Chinese Taipei who holds solo second in the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.

“I played really well today and just kept hitting the ball on the fairway and just tried to hit the greens,” he said after his round at Pondok Indah Golf Club in Jakarta, the 11th event in the 2023 Asian Tour season. 

“I think I made 16 greens today, just missed only two, but my putting I just struggled a little bit, like on the short putts,” he explained. “I don't know why but I felt a little bit of pressure when I putted, so yeah, just the stroke wasn’t so good on the short putts.”

“It didn’t feel easy, I was just really focused until hole number 13 or 14 and I still didn't know how many I was under until I asked my caddie. Golf is really hard, but I played really well, so I hope I will play this good again tomorrow.”

In third place, a strong group threatened to make inroads on the lead, including Lee Chieh-po of Chinese Taipei and England’s Steve Lewton, both of whom were in a position during their round to overtake the course record of 64.

Lee fell short, needing an eagle on the final hole to equal the target, but his birdie on the 18th secured him a position in the final group when the event resumes tomorrow. The wind picked up later in the day, firming up the course and making conditions difficult for the later groups finishing in the afternoon.

Chang, who started the day in fourth place, posted a solid three-under-par round and explained how he was trying to come to terms with maintaining his momentum through a four-day tournament

“I actually felt a bit of pressure today,” he said after posting his score. “I have been in this position in the past and I was never able to hold four good rounds together. There was always one bad round, especially on the third day,” he explained.

“So going out today, even though I started well with a birdie on first, I wasn't playing confidently. The first birdie was quite an adventure as I didn't hit the fairway,” he added.

“Things got better at the back and I felt more comfortable out there. The birdie on 17 was the highlight for me as I holed quite a long putt there, maybe from 25 feet.

“It’s nice to be in a good position heading into the final round although Nitithorn has widened the gap today. I will continue to do the same things tomorrow, trust my game and see how it goes,” he said.

Richard T. Lee of Canada, who shares third place with Lee, Lewton, Scott Hend of Australia and South Africa’s MJ Viljoen, struggled with some nasal issues following a recent surgery but managed to get back on track to stay in contention having started the day in front.

“I actually had an incident in the morning, so it was like a bloody nose for an hour. I thought I was going to actually withdraw from the tournament, but it stopped for a bit and I came out and played. I just felt dizzy all day today, so I couldn't make any putts,” he explained.

“I actually had surgery one month ago because I couldn't breathe out of one side of my nose. Hopefully, I'm not dizzy tomorrow and I don't have a nosebleed again, so hopefully just shoot another six under and maybe I will have a chance out there.”

Hend, who was bullish about his chances after returning to golf from a six-week break, managed to maintain sight of the lead with a 70.

Viljoen scored a sensational 62 yesterday, albeit playing with lift clean and place due to early rainfall, but was unable to continue his charge as conditions firmed today. His four bogey and two birdie rounds of 74 helped him to complete the group at 12 under in third place.

In solo eighth place, on 11 under par, Tom Power-Horan of Australia was another who threatened to upend the course record. Despite scoring eight birdies with no dropped shots up until the last hole, a bogey on the par-five 18th meant he had to settle for a 65.

Scores after round 3 of the Mandiri Indonesia Open being played at the par 72, 7243 Yards Pondok Indah GC course (am - denotes amateur):
198 - Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 66-65-67.
203 - Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 66-68-69.
204 - Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 69-70-65, Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-68-68, Scott Hend (AUS) 65-69-70, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 66-66-72, MJ Viljoen (RSA) 68-62-74.
205 - Tom Power Horan (AUS) 70-70-65.
206 - Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 68-71-67, Dongmin Lee (KOR) 71-68-67, Natipong Srithong (THA) 70-69-67, Douglas Klein (AUS) 70-68-68, Guxin Chen (CHN) 71-66-69, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 64-70-72.
207 - Ian Snyman (RSA) 73-67-67, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 72-68-67, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 67-70-70, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 69-68-70, Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 71-66-70, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 70-67-70, Doyeob Mun (KOR) 65-69-73.
208 - Viraj Madappa (IND) 71-68-69, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 72-69-67, Gabriel Hansel Hari (am, INA) 67-71-70, Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 69-72-67, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 68-69-71, Ryo Hisatsune (JPN) 66-70-72, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 68-67-73.
209 - Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 67-72-70, Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 71-69-69, Hanmil Jung (KOR) 69-70-70, Ervin Chang (MAS) 70-68-71, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 68-70-71.
210 - S. Chikkarangappa (IND) 71-68-71, Kartik Sharma (IND) 68-71-71, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 69-70-71, Angelo Que (PHI) 69-71-70, Michael Maguire (USA) 71-69-70, Minkyu Kim (KOR) 68-69-73.
211 - Yongjun Bae (KOR) 69-71-71, Poom Saksansin (THA) 72-70-69, David Drysdale (SCO) 68-68-75, Josh Younger (AUS) 72-70-69, Jarin Todd (USA) 72-70-69, Runchanapong Youprayong (THA) 70-72-69.
212 - Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 69-70-73, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 71-70-71, Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 74-67-71, Jonathan Wijono (INA) 73-64-75, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 71-71-70.
213 - Dodge Kemmer (USA) 70-70-73, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 72-70-71, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 73-69-71, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 75-67-71.
214 - Rashid Khan (IND) 68-73-73, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 70-67-77, Matt Sharpstene (USA) 74-68-72.
215 - Deyen Lawson (AUS) 69-71-75, Kevin Akbar (INA) 72-69-74, Matthew Cheung (HKG) 70-72-73, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 72-70-73.
217 - Nasin Surachman (INA) 69-72-76, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 69-73-75.
218 - Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 71-71-76.
222 - Elki Kow (INA) 67-75-80.
Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, Thailand - RT

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