taiwan.mastersChina’s Liang Wen-chong fired a bogey-free four-under-par 68 under tough conditions to grab a one-shot lead in the penultimate round of the US$650,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters on Saturday.

Liang, who started the round five shots off the lead, put up a perfect round highlighted by four birdies for a three-day total of five-under-par 211 at the challenging Taiwan Golf and Country Club’s Tamsui course.

Malaysian Danny Chia battled to a 73 to take second place while overnight leader Rashid Khan of India slipped to third on 213 following a disappointing 75 at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters, which is the longest-running Asian Tour event.

Filipino veteran Antonio Lascuna signed for a 72 to stay four shots off the pace in fourth place while local stalwart Yeh Wei-tze (73), Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond (71), Adilson Da Silva (73) of Brazil and Sri Lankan Mithun Perera (74) shared fifth on 217.

Liang, who birdied sixth, 12th, 13th and 15th, credited his hot putter for a solid round which put him in prime position for a fourth Asian Tour victory heading into the all-important final round.

“It’s my first time playing in this tournament but after playing the first two rounds, I felt more comfortable with the course. I tackled the course better today. I played steady out there and it was not much of a problem for me. I was able to play my own game without thinking much.

“My game was feeling good coming to this week so I just tried to ride on that good form. This is a very special golf course. The conditions can be different every day. I love such a challenging layout because it sets me thinking about my strategy,” said the 36-year-old Liang, whose longest putt of the day came on the 12th where he holed a 15-footer for birdie.

While immersing himself in the great golfing culture of Tamsui, Liang wants to keep his expectations low.

“It’s been great being here in Tamsui. I have met a lot of veterans like Lu Wen-teh, Lin Keng-chi and Chen Tze-chung, who has seen me grown as a player over the years. I know this is a place of great golfing history and has cultivated many generations of good players.

“I don’t want to think so much about tomorrow. It’s hard to say because anything can happen. I just want to enjoy my game out there,” added Liang, who is playing in his first attempt at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.

Chia, who led the opening round, was three-over-par after 11 holes but rallied back with two birdies in his last seven holes to keep up his chase for a long-overdue second victory on the Asian Tour.

“It was a bit of a struggle for me out there. I missed quite a few short putts from four to five feet which were really frustrating. It wasn’t as windy as it was yesterday but this is a golf course that will play tough even without the wind. You still have to deal with the tricky greens,” said the 42-year-old Malaysian, who traded four birdies against five bogeys.

“It was a good comeback with the two birdies on par-fives coming home. I managed to gain some strokes back and I’m happy to remain in a good position for a final charge tomorrow. On 13th, I chipped it to two-feet short of the cup and putted in from there while on 15th, I holed a 10-footer for birdie,” added Chia.

Despite struggling with a cold putter, Khan is determined to put up a strong charge when he steps up to the tee for the final round. “I am only two shots back so I think I still have a chance tomorrow. I will try my best to catch up,” said the 24-year-old Indian, who mixed his card with one birdie against four bogeys.

Players will be vying for good showings at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters to boost their chances of qualifying for the prestigious CIMB Classic and WGC-HSBC Champions.

As of October 26, the leading four golfers from the Order of Merit will earn starting places in the US$8.5 million HSBC Champions in November while the leading 10 players will qualify for the US$7 million CIMB Classic at the end of October.


Scores after round 3 of the Mercuries Taiwan Masters 2015 being played at the par 72, 6923 Yards Tamsui Course course (am – denotes amateur):

211 – LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 70-73-68.

212 – Danny CHIA (MAS) 67-72-73.

213 – Rashid KHAN (IND) 68-70-75.

215 – Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 72-71-72.

217 – Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 75-71-71, YEH Wei-tze (TPE) 71-73-73, Adilson DA SILVA (BRA) 75-69-73, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 71-72-74.

218 – SUNG Mao-chang (TPE) 73-77-68, HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 74-72-72, Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 69-74-75.

219 – Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 71-77-71, Adam GROOM (AUS) 73-71-75, PAN Cheng-tsung (TPE) 71-72-76.

220 – Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN) 74-73-73, Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 73-73-74, LU Wei-chih (TPE) 75-70-75, Unho PARK (AUS) 75-69-76.

221 – HSU Hao-sheng (TPE) 76-74-71, HSIEH Tung-hung (TPE) 72-77-72, Himmat RAI (IND) 73-75-73, LIU Wei-hou (TPE) 73-73-75, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 69-76-76, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 75-69-77.

222 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 74-76-72, LU Wen-teh (TPE) 76-73-73, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 75-74-73, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 76-72-74, Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 73-73-76, CHAN Yih-shin (TPE) 71-73-78.

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