Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai shot a four-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead after three-rounds of the US$1 million Saudi Open presented Public Investment Fund today.

He leads on 12-under from compatriot Denwit Boriboonsub here at Riyadh Golf Club – in the Asian Tour’s season-ender.

Australian Travis Smyth carded a 64 and is a further shot back with Indian Veer Ahlawat, who returned a 66, and Todd Sinnott, also from Australia, who came in with a 69.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson gave himself a shot at the title tomorrow after shooting a 67 and is tied for sixth with three other players on nine-under. 

All eyes will be on Phachara as he attempts to win his second title on the Asian Tour. It was two years ago that he claimed his maiden title, the 2021 Laguna Phuket Championship, before a stream of near misses followed.

He began the day in a share of the lead with Denwit and Sinnott and later took control with three birdies from the 10th for a three-shot advantage. Wayward approach shots on 16, where he made a bogey, and 17, where he saved a par, stopped his momentum.

“Today started very good, until like the end,” he said.

“All driver, all putting, all chipping, perfect until like the end. I struggled with my iron on last couple of holes.

“I missed the par-five 15th, hit it big right, and maybe after that feel like I am not trust myself, but I just tried to keep score, not lose my mind.  If my game is like today I still have a chance tomorrow because today I hit perfect, make a lot of birdie.

“Today I played safe instead of try and reach the green with one shot. I can make birdie with two shots to green. Maybe tomorrow will be same plan.”   

In-form Denwit missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last to draw level with Phachara. He is bidding to complete the hat-trick tomorrow having won the Aramco Invitational, also in Saudi Arabia, two weeks ago on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), followed by the Thailand Open last week.

He said: “Today the first nine was quite nervous for me, because it was my first time playing in the final group on the Asian Tour. And then I made double on the 10th, so that double just changed my mentality. Just play it, whatever happens it happens, and after that double it got better and better.

“I’m very happy because before I’ve never played this well. So, to be here, just in like seven eight weeks, it’s a big improvement for me.”

After his 64, the second best round of the day, Smyth said: “Yeah, it was amazing. You know, for the last three months I feel like the putter has been letting me down, and today yeah, I hit some okay shots, but I was getting lucky, I’ll be honest. I was holing like 20-footers, 40-footers, I think I even holed a 50-footer as well. So it was a little bit of luck, but it felt amazing, especially with the last few months that I’ve had it just felt unreal.”

Thailand’s amateur star Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat came in with a 67 and is eight under in a tie for 10th.

Scores after round 3 of the Saudi Open presented by PIF being played at the par 71, 7246 Yards Riyadh Golf Club course (am – denotes amateur):
201 – Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 68-66-67.
202 – Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 68-66-68.
203 – Travis Smyth (AUS) 71-68-64, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 70-67-66, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 67-67-69.
204 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 69-70-65, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 71-67-66, Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN) 69-68-67, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 70-67-67.
205 – Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 71-69-65, Ratchanon Chantananuwat (am, THA) 66-72-67, William Harrold (ENG) 70-68-67, James Piot (USA) 71-67-67, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 68-69-68, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 64-73-68.
206 – Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 71-70-65, Ben Leong (MAS) 72-67-67, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 69-67-70.
207 – Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 72-72-63, Joshua Grenville-Wood (UAE) 72-70-65, Tomoyo Ikemura (JPN) 70-68-69, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (IND) 71-67-69, Bio Kim (KOR) 70-67-70, Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 68-67-72.
208 – Scott Hend (AUS) 73-69-66, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 71-71-66, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 76-64-68, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 72-68-68, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 68-70-70, Douglas Klein (AUS) 69-69-70, Chanmin Jung (KOR) 67-71-70.
209 – Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 70-71-68, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 71-70-68.
210 – Justin Quiban (PHI) 77-67-66, Ervin Chang (MAS) 73-71-66, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 73-71-66, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 71-72-67, Taehee Lee (KOR) 72-70-68, Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 73-69-68, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 72-70-68, Yikeun Chang (KOR) 71-70-69, Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN) 73-68-69.
211 – Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 75-69-67, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 72-71-68, Matthew Cheung (HKG) 74-69-68, Angelo Que (PHI) 70-72-69, Prom Meesawat (THA) 71-71-69, Steve Lewton (ENG) 69-72-70, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 72-68-71, Luis Carrera (MEX) 66-73-72.
212 – Michael Maguire (USA) 74-70-68, Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 74-69-69, Berry Henson (USA) 71-71-70, Joel Stalter (FRA) 71-69-72, Charng-Tai Sudsom (THA) 76-64-72, Yoseop Seo (KOR) 73-67-72.
213 – Kevin Na (USA) 67-76-70, Ian Snyman (RSA) 74-68-71, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 69-68-76.
214 – Jeremy Gandon (FRA) 76-68-70, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 71-73-70, Natipong Srithong (THA) 73-71-70.
215 – Danthai Boonma (THA) 69-74-72, Othman Raouzi (MOR) 70-72-73.
216 – Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 68-74-74, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 71-69-76.
217 – Settee Prakongvech (THA) 70-74-73, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 73-70-74, Soufiane Dahmane (am, MOR) 73-69-75.
220 – Saleh Alkaabi (am, QAT) 74-70-76.

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