Rising French talent Clement Sordet emerged as the surprise package when he stormed his way to the top with a third round nine-under-par 63 at the Thailand Golf Championship on Saturday.
Playing on a sponsor’s invitation, the 23-year-old stuck to his patient game plan before compiling a three-day total of 16-under-par 200 for a two-shot lead over Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, who had led the opening two rounds at the US$1 million Asian Tour event.
Westwood remains on target for his Thailand Golf Championship treble as he made his move with a 64 to take third place with Korea’s Byeonghun An a further shot back in fourth place on 204 total at the Amata Spring Country Club.
Having only joined the play-for-pay ranks in July this year, Sordet clinched his first victory in just his fourth start as a professional in Northern Ireland the following month.
The Frenchman is continuing to make his mark abroad by eclipsing the marquee names at the Thai showpiece which he fears may now give him a sleepless night.
“Hopefully I can sleep well tonight. I’ll try not take a nap this afternoon so I can sleep well tonight.
“It’s pretty much my dream to play with the top players in the field. I’ll do that tomorrow and hopefully I’ll enjoy it and just play my own game,” said Sordet.
Starting the day in eighth place, Sordet sprinted towards the turn in 31 but it was his eagle-three and birdie on 15 and 17 respectively which gave him the most satisfaction.
“The eagle was a highlight as I made a bogey there on the first day and also the birdie on 17. It was sweet revenge after I made a stupid triple there yesterday,” said Sordet.
Donaldson stumbled with an opening bogey but did enough to hold onto his lead at the turn after making three birdies on holes two, five and seven.
However, his fortunes changed after a double-bogey six on 12.
“I played nicely through quite a few holes, getting my momentum swinging back my way. I was cruising until 12, which was a killer. When I got onto the tee, the shot just wasn’t there. I made a double and suddenly I went from feeling great, to ‘Hang on a minute. Where’s this going?’” said Donaldson.
The Welshman managed to steady the ship coming home and although he had to relinquish the lead he had held over the last two days, Donaldson knows the fight is far from over.
“There some tough holes coming in and I saved a few shots on the way in. It hasn’t been what I wanted today but tomorrow’s another day and I just have to get off to a quick start.
I’ve done enough to stay in the tournament and I’m still in it,” said Donaldson.
After rounds of 71 and 68, Lee burst into life with a sparkling 64 where his only blemish of the day came at the par-five seven where he dropped a shot.
“I was confident and in control and it has got to do with being on a course which I’ve won twice before.
“I hit it close a lot today and I played with a new putter. It feels a lot more stable and I’m rolling the ball quite nicely with it,” said the 2011 and 2014 Thailand Golf Championship winner.
The former world number one believes it will be a close fight till the end with the quality of the field on show this week.
“I’m still three behind and I got to shoot a really low score tomorrow,” said Westwood.
Leading scores after round 3 of the Thailand Golf Championship being played at the par 72, 7498 Yards Amata Spring GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
200 – Clement SORDET (FRA) 71-66-63.
202 – Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) 63-68-71.
203 – Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 71-68-64.
204 – Byeonghun AN (KOR) 69-67-68.
205 – Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 66-69-70, Martin KAYMER (GER) 68-65-72.
206 – Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 70-68-68.
207 – Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG) 68-67-72.
208 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 68-76-64, Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN) 68-74-66, Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 73-68-67, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-72-67, Sunghoon KANG (KOR) 70-68-70.
209 – S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) 72-69-68, Darren CLARKE (NIR) 69-71-69, JIN Cheng (am, CHN) 73-67-69, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-71-70, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 70-66-73.
210 – Jacques BLAAUW (RSA) 70-69-71, Brett MUNSON (USA) 67-72-71, Joost LUITEN (NED) 69-70-71.
211 – Thomas BJORN (DEN) 73-69-69, Arjun ATWAL (IND) 73-69-69, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 71-71-69, Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 72-70-69, Shingo KATAYAMA (JPN) 71-70-70, Berry HENSON (USA) 70-70-71, Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 70-70-71.