Beau Champ, Mauritius: Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh put himself in prime position for a third Asian Tour victory after signing for a third round three-under-par 69 to lead by one shot at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Saturday.
Starting the round four shots off the pace, Siddikur fired four birdies against a lone bogey to lead on seven-under-par 209 total while Korea’s Jeunghun Wang lurked closely in second place following a 71 at the Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita.
Overnight leader Andrew Dodt of Australia endured a disappointing 77 to slip to third place with Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (73) on 213 at the €1 million (approximately US$1.09 million) event, tri-sanctioned by the Asian, European and Sunshine Tours.
Eight-time Asian Tour winner Scott Hend of Australia posted a 69 to move into fifth place on 215 while South African Brandon Stone settled a further shot back in sixth after returning with the day’s best score of 68.
Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour winner but not since 2013, credited his solid drives for putting him in an advantageous position at the Mauritius showpiece.
“I have been driving the ball really solid. It’s a new driver in the bag. I am hitting it straighter and longer. I am not used to playing in this wind but I try to learn after every round. I got up and down for par on 14 and that gave me a lot of confidence.
“I had a great birdie on 16 after that. I had a great drive and I hit my second shot with my three-wood from 225 yards into the wind from left to right before sinking an eight-footer for birdie. That was possibly my birdie so far this week,” said the 31-year-old, who was the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour.
Siddikur is delighted to regain some of his best form after recovering from a back injury which he has struggled with for the last two seasons.
“My back is feeling much better. I am almost 100 per cent recovered. I have been taking good care of myself. I am very excited and I will try to enjoy myself tomorrow. Nothing’s going to change. I will continue to play the same way I did for the last few rounds,” added Siddikur.
Wang, who claimed a breakthrough win in Europe last week, lamented his poor approach shots but took pride in his acute short game which kept him within striking distance of the title.
“The wind made it really difficult to putt today, especially the short putts. I didn’t miss many though, and I played alright, so I am happy with one under. I made some great par saves and I am really pleased with my chipping and putting.
“I didn’t hit my irons or driver well today but my short game saved the round. Last week, I didn’t think about winning and it happened, so this week I won’t think about winning as well. I will take it one shot at a time,” said the 20-year-old Korean, who traded four birdies against three bogeys.
Dodt remained hopeful despite the setback. “I have not felt comfortable with the second shot all week and today, I paid the ultimate price. I have not played my way out of the tournament though. I am still in with a shot tomorrow. You have to hit great golf shots out there and unfortunately I didn’t do that today.
“It’s not until you finish and look at the scores that you remember how tough it is. I just need to play that stretch from 13 better tomorrow to give myself a chance,” said the 31-year-old Australian, who nailed two birdies to turn in 34 before enduring a torrid time on his back nine where he faltered with two double-bogeys and three bogeys.
Scores after round 3 of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open being played at the par 72, 7401 Yards Four Seasons GC course (am - denotes amateur):
209 - Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 68 72 69
210 - Jeunghun WANG (KOR) 69 70 71
213 - Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 75 65 73, Andrew DODT (AUS) 66 70 77
215 - Scott HEND (AUS) 72 74 69
216 - Brandon STONE (RSA) 73 75 68
217 - Estanislao GOYA (ARG) 69 79 69, Lionel WEBER (FRA) 74 71 72, Oliver BEKKER (RSA) 75 69 73, Jaco AHLERS (RSA) 71 72 74
218 - Richard MCEVOY (ENG) 71 74 73, Rhys WEST (RSA) 73 71 74, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 72 72 74
219 - Rashid KHAN (IND) 68 81 70, Adrian OTAEGUI (ESP) 77 71 71, Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 73 75 71, Jason SCRIVENER (AUS) 71 77 71, Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 77 71 71, Adilson Da SILVA (BRA) 74 73 72, Natipong SRITHONG (THA) 70 76 73, Daniel GAVINS (ENG) 74 72 73, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 74 72 73, Chris HANSON (ENG) 72 73 74, Ryan EVANS (ENG) 71 73 75
220 - Jack HARRISON (ENG) 72 78 70, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 73 76 71, Danie VAN TONDER (RSA) 72 75 73, Haydn PORTEOUS (RSA) 73 73 74, Jaco VAN ZYL (RSA) 71 72 77, Ruan DE SMIDT (RSA) 71 72 77, Ross MCGOWAN (ENG) 75 67 78