Young talent Liu Yan-wei of China blistered his back nine with just 29 shots to sign for a sparkling third round nine-under-par 63 and wrest control of the PGM Panasonic Malaysia Championship on Friday.
The 19-year-old Liu, who started the day four shots back, will take a two-shot lead heading into Saturday’s final round after compiling a three-day total of 16-under-par 200 at the RM250,000 (approximately US$55,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
Janne Kaske of Finland matched Liu’s efforts of the day by carding a similar 63 to take second place alongside overnight co-leader Panuwat Muenlek of Thailand, who returned with a second consecutive 69, at the Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia.
American Brett Munson stayed three shots off the pace in fourth following a 69 while Thailand’s Jakraphan Premsirigorn, who held a share of the overnight lead, posted a 71 to take fifth place on his own on 204.
Local duo Low Khai Jei and Mohammad Wafiyuddin carded respective rounds of 67 and 71 to sit in sixth place on 205 with young Thai Suradit Yongcharoenchai, who signed for a 68, at the PGM Panasonic Malaysia Championship, second leg of the ADT schedule this season.
Liu started the day with a bogey on the first but recovered strongly with three birdies to turn in 34. He went on to eagle the par-five 10th hole for the second day straight after hitting a six-iron to about 15-feet from the pin and sank the putt.
The talented Chinese then charged home with five birdies, including three-in-a-row from 12, to mark his personal best nine-hole score, which is also the lowest nine-hole score recorded in the tournament so far this week.
“I hit the ball very well. I played some solid golf today, especially on my back nine. Apart from good drives, I think I played my shorts irons well and I putted well too. All my birdies today were made from within 10 feet,” said Liu, chasing for a breakthrough win on the ADT.
“I didn’t get a good start to the season, missing the halfway cuts in my first two Asian Tour events in Singapore and Myanmar. But a top-10 finish in Bangladesh seemed to turn everything around.
“That was my very first top-10 result on the Asian Tour. It gave me a lot of confidence and I guess I managed to continue that good form into this week. I will stick to the same game plan tomorrow. No pressure for me, we will see how it goes,” added Liu.
The leading Malaysian professional, not otherwise exempt, will receive an invitation to participate in the Panasonic Open Japan, a tournament sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour, from April 20 to 23.
The winner of the PGM Panasonic Malaysia Championship will take home a winner’s prize purse of about US$9,500 and receive six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
Like all other ADT events, the tournament will also offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points to the top six players and ties based on a sliding scale.
The ADT, which is celebrating its seventh season this year, will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2018.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading third round scores:
200 – LIU Yan-wei (CHN) 69 68 63
202 – Janne KASKE (FIN) 68 71 63, Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 64 69 69
203 – Brett MUNSON (USA) 67 67 69
204 – Jakraphan PREMSIRIGORN (THA) 68 65 71
205 – LOW Khai Jei (MAS) 68 70 67, Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA) 68 69 68, Mohammad WAFIYUDDIN (MAS) 64 70 71
206 – Rizal AMIN (MAS) 71 66 69, Narutoshi YAMAOKA (JPN) 71 67 68
207 – Quincy QUEK (SGP) 69 68 70, Pijit PETCHKASEM (THA) 67 72 68
208 – Oskar ARVIDSSON (SWE) 72 66 70, Sukree OTHMAN (MAS) 67 70 71, Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) 67 71 70, Brian JUNG (CAN) 70 72 66, John CATLIN (USA) 70 70 68
209 – James BOWEN (USA) 68 72 69, Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA) 69 69 71, James BYRNE (SCO) 71 66 72, Scott BARR (AUS) 70 69 70, John Michael O’TOOLE (USA) 68 71 70, KHOR Kheng Hwai (MAS) 73 69 67, Johnson POH (SGP) 69 70 70
210 – Mohd Iylia JAMIL (MAS) 74 68 68, Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) 69 72 69, Muhammad Afif FATHI (A) (MAS) 69 73 68, Sorachut HANSAPIBAN (THA) 68 69 73, George GANDRANATA (INA) 70 71 69