Dhaka: Overnight leader Thitiphun Chuayprakong continued his formidable form by carding a six-under-par 65 to lead by three shots following the penultimate round of the US$300,000 Bashundhara Bangladesh Open on Friday.
Thitiphun, who held a two-shot advantage heading into the round, got off to an amazing start where he sank four straight birdies starting from the third hole before soaring with an eagle-three on seven and another birdie on eight to turn in with a sensational 28.
The 23-year-old Thai, however, dropped his first shot in 29 holes after the turn and stumbled with a double-bogey on 13 but recovered with two birdies on his way home for a three-day total of 17-under-par 196 at the Kurmitola Golf Club.
Countryman Sutijet Kooratanapisan and India’s Chikkarangappa matched Thitiphun’s efforts for the day to share second place on 199 while Gaganjeet Bhullar, also of India, settled one shot back in fourth following a 66 at the second edition of the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open.
Japan’s Shunya Takeyasu signed for a 68 to take fifth place on 203 while young Thai Phachara Khongwatmai stayed eight shots off the pace in sixth following a 67 in what is the third leg of the Asian Tour schedule this season.
Thitiphun, chasing for a maiden win on the region’s premier Tour, is delighted with his splendid run so far this week but knows he has to keep himself grounded and not get ahead of himself.
“I stayed focused out there. I felt very confident. I was a little bit excited when I started out but I played with no pressure. I had fun out there. I just want to keep playing the same tomorrow. I will stick to my own game plan,” said Thitiphun, whose highlight of the day came on the par-five seven where he sank a 10-footer eagle putt from the fringe of the greens.
“I thought I got a bit unlucky on the back nine, especially on 13. My tee shot landed in the rough and I didn’t have a good lie. I hit my second shot into the water from there and made a double from there. I told myself to move on and focus on the remaining holes and I was able to make two more birdies coming in,” added Thitiphun, nicknamed ‘Tote’ by his friends which means slow because he does things in his own pace.
Sutijet, also chasing for a breakthrough victory, was on fire with two eagles and four birdies against two bogeys. The 28-year-old Thai produced his eagles on seven and 14 where his pinpoint approach shots on both holes landed 10-feet from the pin.
“I putted really good today. I had two eagles from greenside and it’s the first time I had two eagles in a round! I took advantage of all the par-fives. I am five-under for the par-fives today. It’s very good,” said Sutijet, who needed only 25 putts.
“I was just focusing on hitting fairways and putting the ball on the greens. I wasn’t thinking much out there. I will keep it the same tomorrow. I will try to hit my first shot on the fairways, second shot on the greens and hopefully grab all the birdie opportunities out there,” added Sutijet.
Chikkarangappa, who did not drop a single shot in his last 26 holes, believes that he can still keep up with his title aspirations should he stay true to his form in the final round.
“I enjoyed myself a lot. I didn’t make any bogeys today and my tee shots were better compared to yesterday. I hit the ball really well. Thitiphun got off to a great start. He was just unstoppable. It’s good to see solid golf. It motivates you to play well,” said the 22-year-old Indian, who highlighted his round with six birdies.
“It’s going to be the same for me tomorrow. I just want to go out there and enjoy myself. I don’t want to think so much. I have been in this position before so I really hope to just enjoy my game tomorrow,” add Chikkarangappa, who sank a 30-footer putt left to right and down the hill for birdie on 17.
With the Olympic Games looming in July where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open will be a good opportunity for players in the region to earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro with the Official World Golf Ranking points on offer.
Scores after round 3 of the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open 2016 being played at the par 71, 6581 Yards Kurmitola GC course (am - denotes amateur):
196 - Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 65-66-65.
199 - Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) 67-67-65, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 68-66-65.
200 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 67-67-66.
203 - Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN) 64-71-68.
204 - Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-69-67.
205 - Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) 69-69-67, Zamal HOSSAIN (BAN) 68-69-68, Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN) 70-66-69, Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 66-68-71.
206 - Md. Abdul MATIN (BAN) 68-68-70, Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 68-66-72.
207 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 70-70-67, Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN) 69-70-68, David LUTTERUS (AUS) 70-68-69, Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE) 69-68-70, Tom JOHNSON (USA) 71-66-70, Quincy QUEK (SIN) 69-68-70, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-67-71, Soomin LEE (KOR) 64-69-74.
208 - Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG) 68-72-68, Pijit PETCHKASEM (THA) 69-72-67, Janne KASKE (FIN) 71-70-67, Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 69-69-70, Rahul BAJAJ (IND) 67-69-72, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 66-70-72, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 69-67-72, Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 66-69-73.