Overnight leader Casey O’Toole of the United States stood on the brink of his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) win after signing for a third round three-under-par 69 to lead by four shots at the PGM Tiara Championship on Friday.
The ADT Order of Merit leader, who held a two-shot advantage heading into the round, extended his lead after trading seven birdies against four bogeys for a 13-under-par 203 total at the Tiara Melaka Golf and Country Club.
Compatriot Sejun Yoon returned with a battling 71 to sit in second place while Bangladeshi Shakhawat Sohel and Janne Kaske of Finland shared third on 208 following respective rounds of 65 and 70 at the RM200,000 (approx. US$50,000) ADT event.
After starting his round with early birdies on one and four, O’Toole stumbled with a bogey on six. He recovered swiftly with a birdie on seven but dropped another two shots just before the turn.
Despite the wobble, the American managed to steady his ship as he went on to pick up four birdies against one bogey on his way home.
“I got off to a really nice start. I was two-under-par through five holes but made a couple of mental errors for bogeys after that. I thought I did a really good job bouncing back from the setbacks. I stayed patient out there. I made a great bogey save on 15 after hitting a bad tee shot and that was big for me today,” said the 25-year-old O’Toole.
O’Toole, who has notched eight top-10s this season but without a win, believes the strong support from his family and mentor back home will motivate him as he chases for his long-overdue win on the region’s burgeoning Tour.
“My family and friends back home have always been supportive of what I do. Coming from a small town, everyone keeps up with everyone and we encourage one another. It’s great to see that everyone is following.
“Iain steel messages me before and after every round. He is like my mentor as he teaches me how to go about handling myself. He is been a great help,” added O’Toole, who hails from Oneonta, a city in Alabama.
The winner of the PGM Tiara Championship will take home US$8,371 and receive six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
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 OWGR points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
The ADT is celebrating its sixth season where it has grown immensely from five events in the first year in 2010 to a record 27 tournaments in 2015.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading third round scores:
203 – Casey O’TOOLE (USA) 67-67-69
207 – Sejun YOON (USA) 72-64-71
208 – Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN) 71-72-65, Janne KASKE (FIN) 70-68-70
209 – Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS) 73-69-67, Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA) 69-70-70
210 – Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) 73-69-68, Mars PUCAY (PHI) 66-70-74
213 – Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 71-75-67, LIM Eng Seng (MAS) 71-69-73