Singapore: Malaysian Gavin Green maintained his lead in the US$1.5 million International Series Singapore today at Tanah Merah Country Club but was joined by Phachara Khongwatmai from Thailand.
Green, the Asian Tour number one in 2017 and the leader after the first two days following a pair of stunning seven-under-par 65s, returned 72 while Phachara shot 69 – in the third International Series event this season.
Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang and Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong are a shot behind following rounds of 66 and 68 respectively; while England’s Steve Lewton came in with a 69 to sit a stroke further back.
Play was stopped at 11.10am and resumed at 1.30pm because of inclement weather.
“It was a grinding day, it was such a grind, I couldn’t get anything going,” said Green, whose birdie on eight was offset by a dropped shot on 13 – a stark contrast to his 14 birdies and no bogeys on Thursday and Friday.
“Nevertheless, I just hung in there as hard as I could, making pars from everywhere, sometimes you just got to do that.
“Golf is not a game you can be perfect all the time, my caddie kept saying, ‘stay in it, stay patient, keep trying and hit good shots,’ and you know what we made a lot of saves today, it was kind of a saving day. We are still in it, 18 more holes, I think it’s going to be fun.”
Both Green and Phachara are chasing their second wins on the Asian Tour, with Green having won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in 2017, and the latter the 2021 Laguna Phuket Championship.
Said Phachara, “Today everything wasn’t bad, only one thing was my putting. Because I hit it pretty well, same as in the first and second rounds, but missed a lot of putts. I hope tomorrow the putting is going to work.
“The greens were a little bit slower today I think, all my distance was gone. My reads were great, but only the distance wasn’t good.”
Chan looked set to finish the day sharing the lead but dropped a shot on 18.
“I knew I was tied for lead after the birdie on 17,” said Chan.
“I was just telling myself not to hit it left on 18. I was trying to make birdie there but didn’t hit a good shot from the bunker. Disappointed with the bogey on last but it’s ok, I’m still happy with my overall performance today. I am glad to give myself a good chance tomorrow. It’s great to be in contention, especially in a big event like the International Series.”
Chan will no doubt be a threat tomorrow having won four times on Tour, including the Blue Canyon Championship last November and the Royal’s Cup in four months later.
Nitithorn achieved the rare feat of making two eagles on par fours on the front, on three and nine.
“I know, it’s unbelievable,” said the Thai, winner of The DGC Open in India in March.
“I didn’t expect that it’s going to be in the hole on the third, it’s a blind shot you know. I didn’t see anything, but I just knew that I hit a good shot from 168 yards. And I walked to the green and it’s in. So yeah, happy with that result. On hole nine I had 63 yards, it’s in that gap you know, I don’t really hit that distance well, but I hit it and it went in.”
Five-under par 31
He made the turn in five-under-par 31 but could not maintain the momentum and toured the second nine in one over.
American Peter Uihlein, a former US amateur champion, fired a 67 and is three off the lead along with Jaco Ahlers from South Africa, who carded a 69.
Patrick Reed, the American who claimed the 2018 Masters, was unable to mount a challenge on moving day and shot a 72 and is three under for the tournament.
In the battle to finish as the leading Singaporean, amateur Hiroshi Tai signed for an impressive 69 and is six under, two ahead of another local amateur James Leow, who returned a 71.