Local talent Phiphatphong Naewsuk maintained a two-shot lead over Chapchai Nirat after shooting a three-under-par 68 in the third round of the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on Saturday.
The 25-year-old sank three birdies in his closing six holes for a 12-under-par 201 total to edge closer to a first career victory at the three million Baht (approximately US$91,000) event, which is sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
Chapchai, a four-time Asian Tour winner, stayed within striking distance of his countryman when he posted a 68 at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club. Namchok Tantipokhakul, Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea and Chawalit Plaphol were a further shot back in tied third position on 204.
Phiphatphong, a double gold medalist at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, struggled with a cold putter early in the round where he missed close range birdie chances which resulted in 12 consecutive pars.
“My putting was better on the back nine. I practiced my putting in the morning because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I left many good birdie chances short of the hole,” said a disappointed Phiphatphong, who was bogey free.
Without a win since turning professional in 2010, Phiphatphong admits that he must keep a cool head in the heat of battle to give himself a chance of winning the title.
“I was a bit nervous and it will be the same tomorrow. It will all come down to how I control my emotions. I can’t worry about the top players behind me, I just need to concentrate on my game,” said the Thai.
Chapchai, the world 72-hole record holder, eagled the 14th hole to soar into contention but slipped back with a bogey on the penultimate hole.
“I’m not happy with my irons shots. The course is wide open and I feel comfortable here. The key is to get your ball on the green and as close as you can to the hole. I struggled to do that today,” said Chapchai.
Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in 2014. The ADT has announced a provisional 2015 schedule of a minimum 17 tournaments with several more to be announced in due course.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.
Leading third round scores:
201 – Phiphatphong NAEWSUK (THA) 68-65-68
203 – Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 65-70-68
204 – Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 67-71-66, BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 68-68-68, Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 71-64-69
205 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 74-61-70
207 – Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-71-67, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 71-68-68, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 67-72-68
208 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 71-67-70, Suppakorn UTHAIPAT (THA) 71-67-70
209 – Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA) 72-73-64, Apisit NIMNUAL (THA) 71-70-68, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-71-69, Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 70-70-69, Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 67-70-72, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 65-71-73
210 – Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 70-72-68, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 73-69-68, Pinyo PIROMRUEN (THA) 70-69-71, Varan ISRABHAKDI (THA) 67-72-71