Frenchman Erwan Vieilledent edged closer towards a first career win by shooting a one-under-par 71 to lead by one shot over Malaysia’s R. Nachimuthu in the third round of the PGM MNRB Sarawak Championship on Friday.
The 23-year-old rookie from Cannes traded two birdies and one eagle against three bogeys for an eight-under-par 208 total at the RM200,000 (approximately US$55,400) event to hold a narrow advantage at the Kelab Golf Sarawak.
Nachimuthu fired a 72 to stay in the hunt for a first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title while Casey O’Toole of the United States posted a 72 to share third place with overnight leader Airil Rizman, who stumbled to a 74 for a 210 total.
Vieilledent was persuaded by Asian Tour regular Lionel Weber to play at the Qualifying School earlier this year and even though he missed out on an Asian Tour card, he hopes to gain more experience on the ADT.
“Lionel told me I should go over and try qualifying school because the Asian Tour is growing bigger and bigger. You get to travel to interesting places and my father told me it will be a good opportunity to play here because it is different than Europe,” said Vieilledent.
“This is my first year in Asia and I love it. The ambiance is very good and the players are helpful. It is a nice tour to be on. People help each other a lot,” added the Frenchman, who lives in Kuala Lumpur to make travelling in Asia easier.
A former French national team player and a graduate from the University of Memphis in the United States, Vieilledent produced the shot of the day when he tapped in for eagle on the ninth hole thanks to a superb three wood approach shot from 215 metres.
“Honestly, I’m going to come and play golf. I’m not expecting anything. I will just do my best and have fun on the golf course. The scoring will take care of its own,” explained Vieilledent.
Being new to Asia, Vieilledent had some help from Malaysia’s Wilson Choo, a winner on the ADT, to adapt to the culture and golf courses in Malaysia.
“The heat here is different. The grass on the golf course is quite different. Those are the two main challenges I faced as a rookie. All the guys I travel with help me out and it makes it a lot easier.
“I’m very impressed with Wilson. I get to play a lot of golf with him and I’m very impressed with how he is so good under pressure. He has helped me out a lot on the golf course,” he said.
Since it was inaugurated as a gateway to the Asian Tour in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in both 2014 and 2015.
The ADT will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
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 Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
Leading third round scores:
208 – Erwan VIEILLEDENT (FRA) 69 68 71
209 – R. Nachimuthu (MAS) 69 68 72
210 – Casey O’TOOLE (USA) 70 68 72, Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS) 67 69 74
211 – Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) 70 72 69, CHOO Tze Huang (SIN) 72 70 69, Jordan IRAWAN (INA) 72 72 67, HSIEH Chi-hsien (TPE) 73 68 70, Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) 70 71 70, Janne KASKE (FIN) 72 67 72
212 – Blake SNYDER (USA) 73 69 70, Jake STIRLING (AUS) 70 72 70, Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 72 69 71, Paul DONAHOO (AUS) 67 74 71, Ratchapol JANTAVARA (THA) 71 70 71, Wilson CHOO (MAS) 68 72 72, Nils FLOREN (SWE) 70 68 74
213 – M. Sasidaran (MAS) 69 72 72, Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) 73 68 72
214 – Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 72 71 71, Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE) 69 74 71, Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 69 73 72, KOH Deng Shan (SIN) 72 69 73, Sean RIORDAN (NZL) 75 70 69
215 – LOW Khai Jei (A) (MAS) 69 75 71, Danny CHIA (MAS) 78 66 71, Mohd Iylia JAMIL (MAS) 73 71 71
216 – Michael MOORE (AUS) 70 74 72, KIM Leun-kwang (MAS) 74 70 72, Konstantin LIU (HKG) 70 75 71, Tyler EKENBERG (USA) 73 67 76, LAM Chih Bing (SIN) 72 74 70