Filipino talent Miguel Tabuena grabbed the third round lead with a sensational seven-under-par 65, but has Asian Tour stars Thaworn Wiratchant and Anirban Lahiri hot on his heels at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Tabuena tied for the low round courtesy of two closing birdies to hold a one-shot lead with a 10-under-par 206 total at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
Title holder Thaworn, who birdied the last hole, and Lahiri, ranked second on the Order of Merit, posted matching 68s to tie in second place at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.
Home hero Yeh Wei-tze, a one-time Asian Tour winner, opened with five straight birdies before posting a 65 to share fourth place with Prom Meesawat of Thailand (68) and two-time PGA Tour winner Daniel Chopra (69) of Sweden on a 208 total.
Overnight co-leaders Antonio Lascuna of the Philippines and Australia’s Cameron Smith slipped down the leaderboard following a disappointing 72 and 73 respectively.
Filipino rising star Tabuena turned in 35 before shooting three straight birdies from the 10th hole. He added three more birdies to complete a remarkable back nine performance and put himself in prime position to win a first Asian Tour title.
With one top-10 result at the Solaire Open in the Philippines this year, Tabuena has enjoyed a change in fortunes in his golf game after working with a new coach, Joel Altea, at the start of the year.
“I hit good quality shots on the front nine but didn’t make anything. I went into the back and told myself to do what I’ve been doing and the putts started to fall. I believe in myself so hopefully I will win my maiden title this week,” said Tabuena.
“My coach has been a really big help in my game and I think the hard work has paid off. If my game clicks on the last day then I believe that I can play well and contend for the title,” he explained.
Two-time Asian Tour number one Thaworn birdied the last hole to put a third win at the Yeangder TPC within sight. He mixed his card with two bogeys against six birdies which included a 25 feet birdie putt on the 12thhole.
“It was a mixed round to be honest. I’m happy with where I am now. It is a very tight leaderboard so anything can happen especially on this golf course. I’ve won twice here but I won’t take anything for granted because this course can punish you especially on the greens,” said the 47-year-old Thaworn.
A tired Lahiri struggled in the closing stages after feeling the effects of jetlag. He posted six birdies and one bogey after 13 holes but lost momentum when he bogeyed hole 16.
“I came in on Tuesday afternoon from the Switzerland so I had trouble sleeping. I probably had 15 hours of sleep in four days. I felt the heat on the back nine today and felt a bit low on energy. I’m going to go back, rest up and come stronger tomorrow,” said the India.
Yeh, winner of the 2000 Malaysian Open, hopes to better last year’s tied fifth result at the Yeangder TPC. He was among three players to shoot the low round 65 but might have injured himself in the process.
“I’m definitely hoping to better my result from last year but I will be happy with a top-10 finish because I accidentally stretched my back today. I hope it won’t cause too much a problem tomorrow,” said the 41-year-old.
Scores after round 3 of the Yeangder TPC 2014 being played at the par 72, 7125 Yards Linkou International GcC course (a- denotes amateur):
206 – Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 73-68-65.
207 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 70-69-68, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 73-66-68.
208 – YEH Wei-tze (TPE) 72-71-65, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 67-73-68, Daniel CHOPRA (SWE) 71-68-69.
209 – Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 68-69-72.
210 – Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 72-71-67, Ryan YIP (CAN) 71-69-70, Cameron SMITH (AUS) 70-67-73.
211 – Wolmer MURILLO (VEN) 78-68-65, Paul PETERSON (USA) 71-71-69.
212 – Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 72-72-68, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 70-73-69, LIEN Lu-sen (TPE) 67-71-74.
213 – Jack MUNRO (AUS) 70-74-69, Danny CHIA (MAS) 68-74-71, HSU Hao-sheng (TPE) 68-73-72, Rashid KHAN (IND) 71-70-72.