Bangkokian noses ahead of Poom, Sarit in hunt for 2nd title
Chachoengsao - Panuphol Pittayarat carded a flawless four-under-par 66 to grab a one-stroke lead over Poom Saksansin after the rain-delayed third round of the US$300,000 Thailand Open at the Thai Country Club on Saturday.
The 25-year-old from Bangkok was neck-and-neck with his peers Poom and rookie Sarit Suwannarut but two finishing birdies propelled him to the overnight lead with a total of 13 under-par-197 after heavy rain had caused play to be suspended for two hours in the morning.
“The first 16 holes were very tight . It was hot after the rain. The last two birdies calmed me down and made my day,” said Panuphol, who showed admirable resolve after missing four cuts, three on the Japan tour and one on Asian Tour, heading into the tournament.
“Missing cuts don’t always mean you are playing badly,” added the young man searching for his second Tour win after his maiden victory at the Indonesia Open last October.
“I hit the balls to the wrong places. But I’m still playing well, especially with my putts.”
Panuphol is in effect playing ‘at home”, since he lives in Bangkok and often practises at the Country Club course.
“You feel comfortable here as you know the place well but you just have to be patient. The win in Indonesia taught me how to win a tournament. I’m going to go out there and enjoy golf,” he said.
Poom, also 25, hit a 66 for the third day in a row to finish on 12 under-par-198. He is vying to become the second straight winner from Chanthaburi province following Rattanon Wannasrichan’s triumph 12 months ago.
“I feel excited but I’m gonna stick with my plan to hit under par. Of course I want to win but I cannot control how other guys will do. If I can’t I just hope the trophy will belong to a Thai,” said Poom. who has two Asian Tour titles under his belt:the Indonesian Masters in 2016 and the TAKE Solutions Masters in the Philippines last year.
Overnight leader Sarit, the youngest among the leading group at 20, struggled on the front nine with one bogey before two birdies at the back saw him finish with a 69 on 11 under.
“Not quite my day but I still reached my goal to hit under par. My putting just helped me a lot. I hope to win but it it’s meant for me it will happen. I have to keep trying my best,” said Sarit in his only second Asian Tour appearance.
Four-time Asian Tour winner Chapchai Nirat shot the day’s lowest score, a bogeyless 64, to be just three shots off the pace. The 35-year-old from Phitsanulok is looking for his first Tour win since the Selangor Masters in September 2014.
“After the rain, there was no wind so it was easier for me to play. I putted so well today. Of course I’d love to win after a while but what I’m more focused on is my swing with my coach (Lakchai Thongsripong),” said Chapchai, who was tied fourth with American Japanese Kurt Kitiyama, a 25-year-old from California, who hit a 66.
Nine-time Tour winner Scott Hend of Australia, after a 66, followed a shot behind at lone 6th with a total 201. With three Tour wins in the Kingdom already, the Australian is always dangerous as he is just four shots off the lead.
The final round will start at 7am on Sunday morning.
Fans can watch live coverage on True Sports HD3 from 11am onwards.