Junghwan Lee birdied three of the last five holes to take the third-round lead in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open today to give himself a chance of improving upon his joint second place finish here last year.

The Korean, whose nickname is ‘Ironman’ because of his strong iron play, carded a five-under-par 66 to lead on 11-under at Namseoul Country Club by a shot from Thailand’s Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, the leader at the start of the day, who returned a 70.

Canadian Richard T. Lee (69) and Hongtaek Kim (71) from Korea are another two strokes back – in the sixth event of the Asian Tour’s season.

This year’s Asian Tour Qualifying School winner Kristoffer Broberg (71) from Sweden and Korean Kyungnam Kang (73) are an additional two shots behind.

Lee, aged 32, started the day three behind the leader Chonlatit and trailed the Thai for much of the day.

However, Chonlatit, who had a two-shot lead after nine, made a costly double bogey on the par-four 16th – where left a chip short and failed to get up and down – while Lee was able to take to the front thanks to birdies on 14, 15 and 17.

Said Lee: “I was second going into the final round last year but this time I am going in to the final round in the lead, which I think is an advantage. I think it is good to solve problems step by step.

“I want to win. I want to do it so much. I have my coaches here this year and we are working really hard. My swing is getting better little by little, it’s not perfect, but it’s improving.”

Lee is in pursuit of his third win since turning professional in 2009, having won on the Korean PGA Tour in 2017 and 2018.

Chonlatit will be disappointed to have let the lead slip from his grasp over the closing stages, but he has given himself a chance to become the first foreign winner of the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in 20 years.

The 25-year-old, who would also become the first Thai to win the tournament, which is one of Korea’s most prestigious events, sensationally made two eagles on par fours yesterday and he was equally inspired today holing a bunker shot for a birdie on the par-three 11th and chipping in for birdie on number 13.

He’d started the day with a one-shot lead following a scintillating day two 62 – which was one shy of Chinese-Taipei’s Chung Chun-Hsing course record, set in 2001.

“I was so lucky today, just lucky,” said Chonlatit.

“Today wasn’t that good, but I had some luck saving me on a few of the holes.

“Today the greens were very fast, if you were past the pin I don’t think you would be able to stop the ball short of the hole.”

“I will just focus on my game and just play tomorrow. I want to hit my tee shots in the fairway first, and then same plan as before, keep it short of the pin and make some putts.”

The Thai lost in a sudden-death play against Australian Wade Ormsby at the International Series Thailand last year, and has won once before on the Asian Development Tour in 2022.

Scores after round 3 of the 43rd GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship being played at Namseoul Country Club, a par-71, 7,083-yard course (am – denotes amateur):

202 – Junghwan Lee (KOR) 67-69-66.
203 – Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 71-62-70.
205 – Richard T. Lee (CAN) 66-70-69, Hongtaek Kim (KOR) 69-65-71.
207 – Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 68-68-71, Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 65-69-73.
208 – Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 74-68-66, Hanmil Jung (KOR) 67-70-71, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 68-69-71.
209 – Seunghyuk Kim (KOR) 71-70-68, Taehoon Ok (KOR) 67-72-70, Junseok Lee (AUS) 72-67-70, Yubin Jang (KOR) 66-69-74.
210 – Seungbin Choi (KOR) 72-69-69, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 73-69-68, Sanghee Lee (KOR) 73-65-72, Jiho Yang (KOR) 71-67-72.
211 – Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 69-72-70, Junhee Choi (am, KOR) 73-69-69, Gyumin Lee (KOR) 69-70-72, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 70-69-72, Steve Lewton (ENG) 70-69-72, Jinho Choi (KOR) 70-67-74.
212 – Hyungjoon Lee (KOR) 72-69-71, Junggon Hwang (KOR) 72-69-71, Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 72-69-71, Woohyun Kim (KOR) 66-74-72, Soomin Lee (KOR) 70-69-73, Wooyoung Cho (KOR) 70-69-73, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 72-67-73, Dongseop Maeng (KOR) 70-69-73.
213 – Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 68-72-73, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 73-69-71, Sungyeol Kwon (KOR) 72-68-73, Sungho Lee (KOR) 72-70-71, Sungjoon Park (KOR) 67-72-74.
214 – Todd Sinnott (AUS) 74-66-74, Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 72-71-71, Seonghyeon An (am, KOR) 68-75-71.
215 – Miguel Carballo (ARG) 66-74-75, Minsu Kim (am, KOR) 74-67-74, Sanghyun Park (KOR) 67-74-74, Brendan Jones (AUS) 74-68-73, Jack Thompson (AUS) 71-69-75, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 70-72-73, Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 73-70-72, Seongje Park (KOR) 72-71-72, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 71-72-72, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 71-72-72, Minjun Kim (KOR) 70-73-72.
216 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 71-69-76, Sungmin Cho (KOR) 72-70-74, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 71-71-74, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 71-71-74, Sungkug Park (KOR) 71-72-73.
217 – Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 70-72-75, Yoon Chung (USA) 70-72-75, Wonjoon Lee (AUS) 70-69-78, Michael Maguire (USA) 69-73-75, Hanbyeol Kim (KOR) 72-71-74, Taehee Lee (KOR) 70-73-74.
218 – Junghun Park (am, KOR) 75-66-77, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 73-67-78, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 71-71-76, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 71-72-75.
219 – Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 72-69-78, Yetaek Lim (KOR) 73-70-76.

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