Namchok Tantipokhakul of Thailand fired a four-under-par 68 in the third round of the PGM UMW Championship to hold a slender one-shot lead on Friday.
The 28-year-old totalled 12-under-par 204 at the Templar Park Country Club to continue his fine form as he claimed his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) win in Sabah last month.
Scott Vincent fired a sparkling 63 to put himself in position to become the first player from Zimbabwe to win on the ADT. He shared second place with Shunya Takeyasu (68) of Japan on matching 205s at the RM200,000 (approximately US$46,600) ADT event.
Paul Harris of the United States and Kemarol Baharin of Malaysia were a further two shots back in fourth place following rounds of 70 and 71 respectively.
The big-hitting Namchok posted two birdies in his opening three holes before adding three more birdies to hold a slight advantage heading into the final round. He could have extended his lead but his birdie attempt at the last hole lipped out.
“I had a good start and that pulled my game up. Every aspect of my game was good. I hit the ball really well and my birdies were from close range. I won’t think about winning. I’ll go out there and have fun. If the win comes then great but if I finish second or third, I’ll accept the result,” said Namchok.
The Thai was a regular on the Asian Tour, having kept his card from 2010 to 2014 but he uncharacteristically finished in 74th position on the Order of Merit last year to lose his playing rights on the region’s premier Tour.
He hopes to fight his way back onto the Asian Tour via the ADT, which affords the top-five players at the end of the season with an Asian Tour card for the following year.
With the Olympic Games looming this July 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:
204 – Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 70 66 68
205 – Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN) 72 65 68, Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 71 71 63
207 – Paul HARRIS (USA) 71 66 70, Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) 68 68 71
209 – Doohwan BANG (KOR) 67 72 70, Baxter REEVES (USA) 68 70 71
210 – Samuel CHIEN (USA) 69 69 72, Jay BAYRON (PHI) 69 72 69, Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS) 70 73 67, Oskar ARVIDSSON (SWE) 70 67 73, Shane SMITH (USA) 69 67 74
211 – Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 68 70 73, Jose ROLZ (GTM) 69 68 74
212 – Nick SHERWOOD (USA) 72 68 72, John Michael O’TOOLE (USA) 69 75 68, Grant JACKSON (ENG) 75 70 67, Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) 74 69 69, Blake SNYDER (USA) 73 70 69
213 – Riley FLEMING (CAN) 72 72 69, Tawit POLTHAI (THA) 72 69 72, Janne KASKE (FIN) 70 72 71, Patrick LUNDY (USA) 73 70 70