Travis Smyth’s quest to win his first Asian Tour title gathered momentum today when he took the third-round lead in the US$700,000 Yeangder TPC after shooting the best round of the day, a six-under-par 66 – in testing wet and windy conditions.

The Australian, so often a presence on the leader board since the Asian Tour restarted last year, is 13 under for the tournament, with defending champion Lee Chieh-po from Chinese-Taipei (69) and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat (71), the overnight leader, one shot back.

Sweden’s Bjorn Hellgren (69) and Settee Prakongvech from Thailand (70) are a stroke further off the pace, at Linkou International Golf and Country Club.

Chinese-Taipei’s latest junior sensation Hsieh Cheng-wei – who yesterday became the youngest male player to make the cut on one of the game’s main Tours, aged 14 – slipped back with a 78 but was still the talk of the tournament after his incredible achievement.

Smyth, 27, came close to winning the International Series England in June when he finished second and knows exactly what he wants tomorrow.

“A win. Simple as that, I want to win, I want the winners’ category,” he said. 

“I feel like I’m playing some pretty solid golf and I believe I can get it done.” 

He stormed out of the blocks today and was four under after four, thanks to an eagle on the par-five opening hole and birdies on three and four; he dropped his only shot on seven, and then settled into top spot with birdies on 10, 12 and 18.

He added: “Very hot start, fighting the swirling wind all day, solid finish. The start was just unbelievable, four under through four. Yeah, you have some easy holes, but to actually do it when it’s windy and rainy and stuff, that just set the tone for the day. The wind was pretty tough all day, so I feel like if you had told me at the start of the day I would have shot three under, I would have been happy. But to shoot six that’s like a bonus.” 

Lee won here last year, although the tournament was not on the Asian Tour schedule due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic.

The event’s return to the Tour seems to have affected him little as he attempts to become the first player to successfully defend the prestigious tournament – which is the first event to be held in Chinese-Taipei in three years.

He also got off to a fast start with birdies on the first three holes before three more birdies were off set by three bogeys. The inclement weather was a constant challenge for him.

Said Lee: “It wasn’t easy out there with the rain. It was hard to gauge the wind direction out there. The wind is the strongest compared to the last two rounds, but I think it’s the best I have played so far this week. 

“Expecting the same weather conditions tomorrow so I will really have to focus on getting the wind direction right. That will be the key. Not thinking too much about winning or defending my title. I had more thoughts on that at the start of the week but now, I’m just thinking about how to cope with the challenges out there.” 

After a birdie on the first followed by eight pars, Chapchai switched from consistency to inconsistency on the back side making three birdies, three bogies and just two pars.

“Luckily today it’s not raining very hard so I still can manage the rain,” said the Thai golfer.

“But the big problem is the wind, the wind here is very gusty and it’s very difficult to know which direction it’s going from the tee to the green. So, you have to try to find where the wind blows, it may be different in different areas.”

Chapchai is on the comeback trail having refocused and practiced hard for the past five months. He is bidding to win for the first time in eight years; the last of his four Asian Tour victories came in the 2014 Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

Added the 39 year old: “Going into tomorrow, I’m very happy with my game right now, and very happy with the success that I have been practicing for. I will try to just play the game I’ve been working on. Up until now I’m very happy with the outcome that’s come through. Definitely, within this year a championship will come to me, Chapchai is coming!”

Scores after round 3 of the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship being played at the par 72, 7108 Yards Linkou GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
203 – Travis Smyth (AUS) 68-69-66.
204 – Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 67-68-69, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 69-64-71.
205 – Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 68-68-69, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 69-66-70.
206 – Liu Yen-Hung (TPE) 69-68-69, Berry Henson (USA) 68-67-71.
207 – Nicholas Fung (MAS) 72-68-67, Ben Leong (MAS) 66-73-68, Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 70-68-69.
208 – Justin Quiban (PHI) 73-66-69, Rashid Khan (IND) 68-70-70, Wang Tsung-chieh (TPE) 68-70-70, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 68-68-72, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 67-68-73.
209 – Honey Baisoya (IND) 71-69-69, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 71-69-69, Cho Tsung-lin (TPE) 69-69-71, S Chikkarangappa (IND) 69-68-72.
210 – Kevin Yuan (AUS) 70-70-70, Prom Meesawat (THA) 67-72-71, Daniel Fox (AUS) 69-70-71, Lin Keng-wei (TPE) 67-71-72, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 68-69-73.
211 – Mardan Mamat (SIN) 72-67-72, Yeh Yu-chen (TPE) 69-73-69, Danny Masrin (INA) 72-67-72, Sung Mao-chang (TPE) 70-69-72, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 66-71-74, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 71-73-67.
212 – Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 71-70-71, Lu Sun-yi (am, TPE) 67-74-71, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 70-70-72, Huang Yi-tseng (TPE) 69-70-73, Shiv Kapur (IND) 64-74-74, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 67-71-74.
213 – Danthai Boonma (THA) 70-71-72, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 72-69-72, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 70-72-71, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 74-68-71, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 70-72-71, Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 69-70-74, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 67-71-75.
214 – Liao Huan-jyun (TPE) 69-72-73, Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA) 73-68-73, Kasidit Lepkurte (THA) 72-70-72, Ian Snyman (RSA) 68-72-74, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 70-72-72, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 75-68-71.
215 – Yikeun Chang (KOR) 70-72-73, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 74-68-73, Manu Gandas (IND) 70-73-72, Chen Hao-sen (TPE) 71-73-71, Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 72-72-71, Rory Hie (INA) 71-73-71, Chiang Chen-chih (TPE) 72-72-71.
216 – Ben Eccles (AUS) 72-69-75, Wen Cheng-hsiang (TPE) 70-71-75, Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 70-70-76, Udayan Mane (IND) 71-71-74, Lai Chia-i (TPE) 71-73-72.
217 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 72-69-76, Chen Yi-tong (TPE) 70-73-74, Lu Chien-soon (TPE) 74-70-73.
218 – Kevin Phelan (IRL) 71-70-77, Thitipan Pachuayprakong (THA) 73-68-77, Fang Yin-jen (TPE) 75-69-74, Lin Yung-lung (TPE) 71-73-74, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 73-71-74, Chan Yih-shin (TPE) 71-73-74, Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 70-74-74.
219 – Yeh Wei-tze (TPE) 69-74-76, Scott Strange (AUS) 73-70-76, Hsieh Chi-hsien (TPE) 73-71-75.
220 – Aman Raj (IND) 70-74-76, Jack Munro (AUS) 72-72-76, Angelo Que (PHI) 72-72-76.
221 – Hsieh Cheng-wei (am, TPE) 69-74-78.

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