Korean Taehoon Ok’s bid to win for the first time in the professional game gathered momentum today when he carded a third-round two-under-par 69 to take the lead in the US$1.5 million International Series Korea.

At 12 under for the Asian Tour event, he leads countrymen Wooyoung Cho, one of the country’s top amateurs, Yoseop Seo and Bio Kim by one shot.

Cho carded a stunning 61, Seo 67 and Kim 70 to set up an enthralling final day at Lotte Skyhill Country Club on Jeju Island.

Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai and Pavit Tangkamolprasert are a stroke further back, after rounds of 63 and 67 respectively.

Ok and Kim had started the third day sharing the lead, but it was the former who had the edge for much of the day reaching 14 with two to play and the prospect of a healthy lead.

However, he made bogey on 17 and 18 to give hope to the chasing pack.

“It was a disappointing finish, but I was satisfied with the round,” said Ok.

“Tomorrow’s conditions should be the same so I will take that into account over those two holes. The win is up to the golfing gods tomorrow, but I will do my best.”

Rising star Cho, aged 20, lit up the tournament with the best round of the week made up of four birdies on the front and six on the back, including five birdies in the last six holes.

It’s also the lowest 18-hole score of the season on the Asian Tour, but as preferred lies are being played it could not count officially.

“I didn’t play well the first two days so it’s great to play well today,” said Cho.

“My driver is always my best club and today I also managed to get the putter going as well. It’s my best round in a tournament but not my best-ever round, I shot 12 under once in a tournament in Thailand.”

He won the Korean Amateur Championship in 2020, was third in last year’s Asian Pacific Amateur Championship, and was ranked the country’s top amateur ahead of the Asian Games before it was postponed this year in China because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added: “Playing a pro event, is just a different level and I know that I will really have to concentrate tomorrow. Today was good but tomorrow I have to win.”

Bio’s attempt to win for the third time this year in Korea, one of those being in the GS Caltex Maekyung Open on the Asian Tour, remained on course despite not breaking 70 for the first time this week.

He said: “Nothing seemed to go my way today, but I tried to stay patient and capitalise on the chances I had. I did that pretty well but unfortunately, on 17 I had a half-plugged lie and got up and down for bogey; I think I managed myself pretty good there.

“I am a couple of shots back, but you never know, it’s golf, keep going to the end. We will see how it goes. Hopefully I can do a little better at everything tomorrow.”

Phachara once again putting himself in contention at the weekend – he was joint second in last week’s International Series Singapore and solo second at the International Series Thailand in March – with a phenomenal eight birdie bogey-free round.

“This year I think my game plan is great, better than last year, and I’ve tried to make my body stronger. Right now I know what I want to do, so my golf is more confident,” said Phachara.

“I think the key is from when I was in Japan with Prom Meesawat, we were together one month in Japan and on the courses in Japan you must have a gameplan. He taught me which shots to play, when to be aggressive and when to play safer. I learned a lot from him, he gave me a lot and made me better.”

American Trevor Simsby, winner of the Malaysian Open in 2020 just before the pandemic shut down the Asian Tour for close two years, returned a 68 and is three off the lead.

Scores after round 3 of International Series Korea being played at the par 71, 7079 Yards Lotte Skyhill Jeju CC course (am – denotes amateur):
201 – Taehoon Ok (KOR) 68-64-69.
202 – Wooyoung Cho (am, KOR) 72-69-61, Yoseop Seo (KOR) 69-66-67, Bio Kim (KOR) 69-63-70.
203 – Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 71-69-63, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 63-73-67.
204 – Trevor Simsby (USA) 67-69-68.
205 – Eric Chun (KOR) 65-72-68, Justin Harding (RSA) 66-70-69.
206 – Yunseok Gang (KOR) 67-73-66, Jeunghun Wang (KOR) 68-71-67, Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 70-68-68, Andy Ogletree (USA) 67-75-64, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 72-65-69, Ian Snyman (RSA) 66-70-70.
207 – Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 70-70-67, Junghwan Lee (KOR) 70-70-67, Natipong Srithong (THA) 69-70-68, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 70-71-66, Chase Koepka (USA) 70-68-69, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 66-72-69, Seung Park (KOR) 70-68-69, Berry Henson (USA) 68-69-70.
208 – Paul Peterson (USA) 71-69-68, Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 70-70-68, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 68-72-68, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 69-72-67, Sam Brazel (AUS) 68-71-69, Woohyun Kim (KOR) 68-71-69, Taichi Kho (am, HKG) 73-66-69, Angelo Que (PHI) 67-71-70, Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR) 69-68-71, Travis Smyth (AUS) 70-72-66, Taeho Kim (KOR) 70-66-72, Hanbyeol Kim (KOR) 68-66-74.
209 – Brett Rumford (AUS) 66-74-69, Sanghun Shin (KOR) 69-71-69, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 71-69-69, Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 70-71-68, Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 71-70-68, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 69-73-67.
210 – Kevin Phelan (IRL) 70-70-70, Junsung Kim (KOR) 69-72-69, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 72-69-69, Danny Masrin (INA) 70-68-72, Gwanwoo Ma (KOR) 71-71-68, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 71-71-68, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 70-66-74.
211 – Zach Bauchou (USA) 70-70-71, Jarin Todd (USA) 68-73-70, Jinsung #875 Kim (KOR) 70-71-70, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 68-70-73, Sangyeop Lee (KOR) 70-72-69.
212 – Byungjun Kim (KOR) 70-70-72, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 71-70-71, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 73-68-71, Daniel Fox (AUS) 70-71-71, Keith Horne (RSA) 68-73-71, Minchel Choi (KOR) 73-68-71, Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 70-68-74.
213 – Ben Campbell (NZL) 67-73-73, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 68-72-73, Rashid Khan (IND) 70-71-72.
214 – Minjun Kim (KOR) 70-70-74, Sungkug Park (KOR) 69-71-74, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 72-68-74, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 69-72-73, Chien-yao Hung (TPE) 69-72-73, Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 69-68-77, Sungho Lee (KOR) 73-69-72.
216 – Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 70-72-74, Shiv Kapur (IND) 68-74-74, Cory Crawford (AUS) 70-72-74.
219 – Yikeun Chang (KOR) 70-70-79.

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