David Puig’s decision to cut short his college career in the United States to turn professional is quickly starting to look justified after the Spanish rookie took the third-round lead in the inaugural US$1.5 million International Series Morocco today.
He carded a four-under-par 69 at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to lead on 10 under by two shots from overnight leader Richard T. Lee from Canada, who carded a 74.
The Vincent brothers, Kieran and Scott, are tied for third one stroke further back following a spectacular 64 and 71 respectively, along with Australian Scott Hend, who came in with a 72.
Puig, who played for Arizona State University, turned professional in September to compete in the LIV Golf Invitational Chicago, and this week’s Asian Tour event is only his second tournament as a professional.
He was bogey free today, making a birdie on five and three in a row from 11.
“You know, I played pretty good overall,” said the 20 year old.
“Obviously I hit it pretty good to not make any bogeys, but the whole day I played pretty steady. I’m hitting fairways and greens, and I made all the short putts that I needed to make. I’m excited and looking forward for tomorrow.
“I usually like long and wider courses, and this one is pretty long but it’s obviously very tight. But you know, I’ve been hitting my driver, three wood and five wood pretty good the last month and a half, so once I step up on the tee boxes I feel pretty confident. So that’s the key probably.”
Lee shot 65 yesterday for a two-shot lead but was unable to maintain that form today with a particularly bad run of three straight bogeys from 13. A birdie on the par-five 18th partially helped to salvage the day.
“Just didn’t drive well today and missed quite a few putts, I just couldn’t read the greens,” he said.
“But I am still in it and confident I can make a run at it tomorrow. It’s been a good year so far. I have worked hard to get back after a shoulder injury last year.”
Kieran Vincent’s round of the tournament so far is even more impressive when put into the context of his week as a whole.
Not only did his clubs not arrive with him when he landed on Tuesday from New York, but he only received them on Thursday morning just hours before he teed off after he went to pick them up at Casablanca airport, which is well over a one-hour drive from the golf club.
“I didn’t even know my clubs were there [at the airport on Thursday]. I was lucky enough that they were coming on that flight from JFK, so I picked them up and got here just in time for my tee off time,” said the Zimbabwean.
“I had arrived here on Tuesday morning and was club-less. So just came up to the course and thought at least we’ll see the course and do a little bit of practice. I think I was using someone else’s wedge, and a putter from who knows when.
“One of the guys from here I was lucky enough for him to lend me a set for Wednesday too, if I was able to just go out there and play a couple of holes. So, I was lucky enough to do that. But the main reason was we had some clubs to play and practice with.”
He made an eagle, and seven birdies and will play in the final pairing on Sunday with Puig and Lee, with his older brother Scott in the penultimate group.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and American Erik Compton are tied for sixth, four behind Puig.
Jazz fired a 71 and Compton, who won the Hassan II Golf Trophy on this course in 2005, shot a 71.
Scores after round 3 of the International Series Morocco being played at the par 73, 7600 Yards Royal Golf Dar Es Salam course (am – denotes amateur):
209 – David Puig (ESP) 70-70-69.
211 – Richard T. Lee (CAN) 72-65-74.
212 – Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 73-75-64, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 70-71-71, Scott Hend (AUS) 71-69-72.
213 – Erik Compton (USA) 72-70-71, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 71-70-72.
214 – Turk Pettit (USA) 73-73-68, Berry Henson (USA) 71-73-70, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 70-73-71, Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-73-73.
215 – Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 72-73-70, Cole Madey (USA) 67-76-72, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 70-72-73, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 67-72-76.
216 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 70-74-72, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 70-71-75.
217 – Trevor Simsby (USA) 69-75-73, Chase Koepka (USA) 71-71-75.
218 – Kevin Yuan (AUS) 70-76-72, Jeunghun Wang (KOR) 70-74-74, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 73-69-76.
219 – Poom Pattaropong (THA) 74-74-71, Sam Brazel (AUS) 74-74-71, Taehee Lee (KOR) 76-73-70, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 69-76-74, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 73-71-75, Taehoon Ok (KOR) 71-73-75, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 70-72-77.
220 – Settee Prakongvech (THA) 74-73-73, Poom Saksansin (THA) 71-77-72, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 73-74-73, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 76-70-74, Travis Smyth (AUS) 77-69-74, Sihwan Kim (USA) 74-75-71, Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN) 72-73-75, Brett Rumford (AUS) 76-73-71.
221 – Aman Raj (IND) 74-73-74, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 72-75-74, Ayoub Lguirati (MOR) 74-73-74.
222 – James Piot (USA) 72-76-74, Ryo Hisatsune (JPN) 75-72-75, Bio Kim (KOR) 73-76-73, Neil Schietekat (RSA) 71-78-73, Keith Horne (RSA) 75-74-73, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 74-72-76, Viraj Madappa (IND) 75-74-73, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 73-76-73, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 74-76-72, Doyeob Mun (KOR) 75-75-72, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 76-67-79.
223 – Wade Ormsby (AUS) 73-75-75, Ian Snyman (RSA) 72-77-74, Danny Masrin (INA) 69-76-78, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 75-74-74, Prom Meesawat (THA) 72-78-73.
224 – Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 75-73-76, Sam Broadhurst (ENG) 75-73-76, Ben Leong (MAS) 77-72-75, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 75-75-74.
225 – Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 73-75-77, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (ESP) 75-72-78.
226 – Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 75-73-78, Kasidit Lepkurte (THA) 75-73-78, Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 73-76-77, Jordan Duminy (RSA) 76-74-76, Jack Harrison (ENG) 76-74-76.
228 – Minchel Choi (KOR) 74-76-78, Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA) 73-77-78.
232 – Miguel Carballo (ARG) 74-76-82.