David Puig impressively remained on course to win his first title as a professional when he carded a third-round six-under-par 66 for a gaping nine-shot lead in the US$2 million International Series Singapore at Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC).
The Spaniard dominated The International Series event for the third successive day, reaching 20 under, with Korean Jaewoong Eom leading the chasing pack after shooting a 69.
Thailand’s Atiruj Winaicharoenchai returned a 68, and Australian Jack Thompson a 69, to sit in a tie for third, one shot back – on another incredibly hot and humid day on TMCC’s magnificent Tampines Course.
Puig’s 64 on day one gave him a three-shot lead, and after a 66 yesterday he moved six in front before more big drives, precision iron play and a hot putter today saw him extend the gap.
The 21-year-old, who also plays on the LIV Golf League, attacked the front nine with three birdies and an eagle to take a firm grip of the event before eight successive pars on the back was fittingly capped off with a birdie on the par-five 18th.
Said the richly talented golfer: “Yeah played very good again, hit a lot of fairways and greens and made some putts on the front nine. I think I missed some on the back but overall played very good, very steady and pretty happy.”
His 54-hole score is the lowest of the season on the Asian Tour, while he also has the biggest three-round lead of the year.
Despite his exceptional performance he did admit he still has concerns.
“You know, I always get frustrated. It doesn’t matter if I’m leading like this week or if I’m playing pretty bad, I always get frustrated because I always want to make the best score I can,” he said.
“But again, I know I was hitting good putts, they dropped in the front nine and they didn’t on the back, so I think it was pretty average overall. But again, very happy with the way I’m playing, and it was good to finish with a birdie on 18.”
Puig is expected to see it through tomorrow and banish the memories of recent missed opportunities, when he dropped shots at crucial stages.
He led after three rounds of the International Series Morocco last year, in his first event on Tour, before finishing third, and this year he shared the lead at the half-way mark of the International Series England in August, eventually finishing fourth. The following week he had a three-shot lead after two rounds of the St Andrews Championship but ended in a tie for 14th. And last month he was the first-round leader in the Shinhan Donghae Open, before coming home in equal 11th place.
He also hasn’t missed the cut in his nine starts on the Asian Tour, since turning professional just over a year ago.
Little is known of Eom, although he excelled in the New Zealand Open this year, finishing in a tie for second and will at the very least look to repeat that tomorrow.
“I couldn’t make as many putts as I did yesterday,” he said.
“I gave myself a lot of opportunities but couldn’t make most of them. That’s the key difference compared to yesterday. I managed to save pars on two holes after hitting wayward drives. Nice to stay bogey-free for two rounds.
“Puig played very well and he is too far ahead. It will be tough to catch him tomorrow. But I learned a lot from watching how he played today. I will just play my game tomorrow and try to finish the best I can.”
While his English is limited, he does surprisingly speak Mandarin fluently having lived in Qingdao, China, for a couple of years when he was a teenager and went to high school and college there.
American Andy Ogletree – leader of both the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merits – came in with 68, while Koreans Seungtaek Lee and Yongjun Bae plus Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho carded 69s and are in a tie for fifth but a whopping 11 shots behind the runaway leader Puig.
Defending champion Nitithorn Thippong from Thailand fired a 73 and is one under, in a tie for 55th.
Scores after round 3 of the International Series Singapore being played at the par 72, 7535 Yards Tanah Merah CC course (am – denotes amateur):
196 – David Puig (ESP) 64-66-66.
205 – Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 69-67-69.
206 – Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 68-70-68, Jack Thompson (AUS) 69-68-69.
207 – Andy Ogletree (USA) 68-71-68, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 71-67-69, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 71-67-69, Taichi Kho (HKG) 71-67-69.
208 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 71-71-66, Poom Saksansin (THA) 70-69-69, Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN) 68-70-70.
209 – Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 70-72-67, Ben Leong (MAS) 69-73-67, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 67-73-69, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 67-73-69, Turk Pettit (USA) 70-68-71.
210 – Berry Henson (USA) 72-70-68, Danthai Boonma (THA) 70-72-68, Ian Snyman (RSA) 73-69-68, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 68-71-71, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 72-71-67, Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS) 71-67-72.
211 – Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 71-71-69, Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 74-67-70, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 72-70-69, Richard Bland (ENG) 70-71-70, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 69-69-73.
212 – Veer Ahlawat (IND) 70-71-71, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 75-67-70, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 72-69-71, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 68-72-72, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 70-70-72, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 68-72-72, David Drysdale (SCO) 69-71-72, Ervin Chang (MAS) 72-71-69, Sanghyun Park (KOR) 74-69-69, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 70-70-72, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 69-70-73, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 69-69-74.
213 – Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN) 71-71-71, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 72-69-72, Sangmoon Bae (KOR) 72-70-71, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 69-71-73, Ben Campbell (NZL) 68-74-71, Travis Smyth (AUS) 70-73-70, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 67-72-74, Matthew Cheung (HKG) 69-74-70.
214 – Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 72-70-72, Meenwhee Kim (KOR) 68-74-72, James Wilson (ENG) 70-71-73, Ryan Ang (am, SIN) 70-72-72, Yuto Katsuragawa (JPN) 70-72-72, John Lyras (AUS) 72-68-74, Natipong Srithong (THA) 73-70-71.
215 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 71-71-73, Bio Kim (KOR) 68-74-73, Yonggu Shin (CAN) 70-73-72, Dodge Kemmer (USA) 70-73-72.
216 – Honey Baisoya (IND) 74-67-75, Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 71-72-73, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 73-70-73, Angelo Que (PHI) 71-72-73, Prom Meesawat (THA) 71-72-73.
217 – Matt Killen (ENG) 71-71-75, Viraj Madappa (IND) 70-71-76, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 69-73-75, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 74-69-74.