Welshman Price, a late replacement for an injured Thomas Bjorn of Denmark at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event, carded a superb five-under-par 67 at Pine Valley Golf Club. He finished his round in sensational style by chipping in for birdie at the last hole.
Overnight leader Rahil Gangjee of India bogeyed the 18th en route to a 70 to fall into the leaderboard logjam alongside Korean stalwart Kang Wook-soon and Australian duo Kim Felton and Adam Groom. The leaders are on 11-under-par 205, one shot ahead of rookie Richard Moir.
Chinese ace Zhang Lian-wei endured a roller-coaster 69 that included six birdies, one bogey and a double bogey to lie two off the pace in tied seventh place with Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung, American Jason Knutzon and Alistair Presnell of Australia.
“I’ve been looking like I was going to play well all day. I hit lots of good shots but didn’t make any putts on the front nine. I thought on the back nine, it was inevitable that a few putts would drop in,” said Price, who was in the victorious European side that lifted the Ryder Cup in 2002.
“If I keep playing like I’m doing I can shoot a really low score (tomorrow). So I think I better pay attention to what I??m doing rather than what the others are doing. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish after chipping in for birdie on 18. In order to be invited back for next year’s Volkswagen Masters, I’ll need to win. So that’s my goal,” added Price, who will feature in the final twosome with Kang on Sunday.
Rookie Gangjee showed no signs of nerves leading into the third round and surged further ahead with an outward 33. But he was soon caught by the chasing pack and rued his lone bogey of the day at the last. “Surprisingly, I slept really well last night. I was disappointed with my driving and leaked a few shots to the right. I know what the problem is and will work on it.
“It was disappointing to bogey the last hole. I had 140 yard to the pin but just hit it too good and it flew over the green. I didn’t feel any pressure today and I don’t expect any tomorrow. Like I said yesterday, I’m out here this week to have some fun as my game has been bad. I’ll aim for fairways and greens and hope for some putts to drop. It’s a tight leaderboard and there are a lot of seasoned guys who can shoot a low round tomorrow. I’m going to try my best,” said the 25-year-old Calcutta based pro.
Two-time Asian number one Kang, who has won seven titles in the region, is aiming for his first win in three years which will be a fitting send-off before he heads to the United States later this month to play on the Nationwide Tour.
With his cool composure and smooth swinging game, Kang hit all the greens in regulation but took 33 putts in his bogey-free 68. “Too many putts,” moaned the Korean.
“I’m in good position and I’m feeling confident. Winning will be nice as I’ve not won for a while. I’m also going to the US this month and will try to play in 20 tournaments and earn my US card,” said Kang, who agonisingly missed his US PGA Tour card by one shot at Qualifying School last December.
Zhang found grief again on the 462-yard par four ninth, a poor drive finding trouble on the left and leading to a double-bogey six. He is now three-over on that hole. But the self-taught golfer fought back courageously on the back nine and holed a magnificent 25-footer on 17 to give himself a shot at the title.
“Since the practice rounds, I’ve always hit the ball to the left on number nine. I’ve got to find out why. But despite the double bogey, I stayed calm and I’m glad that I managed to pull back three birdies. I holed some long putts which was nice. It’s good to have a chance tomorrow,” said Zhang.
Felton and Groom are chasing their maiden wins on the Asian Tour and their cause was helped when they fired rounds of 68 and 69 respectively.
“I hit it into the water on 11 for bogey but came back strongly with some nice shots. I hit a nice four iron to 10 feet on the par five 13th for eagle which was nice. I played pretty good coming in and then holed one from the trap on 16 for birdie. It’s good to be up there. It’s good to be getting a bit of nerves again,” said Felton.
Third round scores
205 – Phillip Price (WAL) 68-70-67, Kim Felton (AUS) 70-67-68, Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 70-67-68, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 69-66-70, Adam Groom (AUS) 67-69-69
206 – Richard Moir (AUS) 67-70-69
207 – Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-70-67, Alistair Presnell (AUS) 71-68-68, Jason Knutzon (USA) 69-70-68, Zhang Lian-wei (CHN) 68-70-69
208 – Lee Sung-man (KOR) 71-71-66, David Hearn (CAN) 70-69-69, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-68-70 Kyi Hla Han (MYN) 70-68-70, Keith Horne (RSA) 68-70-70, Gerald Rosales (PHI) 72-65-71
209 – Ross Bain (SCO) 66-73-70
210 – Greg Hanrahan (USA) 70-70-70, Sushi Ishigaki (JPN) 70-71-69, Chris Williams (RSA) 69-71-70, Unho Park (AUS) 71-67-72
211 – Jason Dawes (AUS) 73-72-66, Anthony Kang (USA) 70-72-69, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 73-69-69, Lin Chien-bing (TPE) 73-69-69, Gary Rusnak (USA) 69-71-71, Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 69-71-71
212 – Ian Woosnam (WAL) 75-71-66, Koji Katoh (JPN) 73-69-70, Rick Gibson (CAN) 69-73-70, Lin Wen-Tang (TPE) 71-70-71, Edward Michaels (USA) 72-69-71, Amandeep Johl (IND) 71-69-72
213 – Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 73-71-69, Eddie Lee (NZL) 71-71-71, Lam Chih Bing (SIN) 75-66-72, Nick Faldo (ENG) 71-70-72
214 – Nico Van Rensburg (RSA) 72-74-68, Andrew Pitts (USA) 73-72-69, Adam Le Vesconte (AUS) 74-69-71, Jonathan Cheetham (ENG) 71-72-71, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 71-71-72, Scott Barr (AUS) 73-68-73
215 – Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN) 73-71-71, Derek Fung (HKG) 75-69-71, Pat Giles (AUS) 78-66-71, Jamnian Chitprasong (THA) 71-70-74, Lai Hung-Lin (TPE) 71-69-75, P. Gunasegaran (MAS) 69-71-75
216 – Katsuhiko Yamazaki (JPN) 74-72-70, Uttam Singh Mundy (IND) 74-71-71, Mike Cunning (USA) 74-70-72, Bryan Saltus (USA) 71-73-72, Marcus Both (AUS) 69-73-74, Simon Yates (SCO) 68-72-76, Chung Joon (KOR) 72-68-76
217 – Eiji Mizoguchi (JPN) 72-73-72, Liang Wen-chong (CHN) 72-72-73, Des Terblanche (RSA) 71-70-7
218 – Moon Kyung-Don (KOR) 72-74-72, Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 73-73-72
219 – Adam Fraser (AUS) 74-72-73, Hong Chia-Yuh (TPE) 77-69-73, Olle Nordberg (SWE) 70-71-78
220 – Wang Ter-Chang (TPE) 76-70-74, Satoshi Tomiyama (JPN) 74-72-74, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 74-72-74, Craig Kamps (RSA) 71-73-76
221 – Kim Do-Hoon (KOR) 76-70-75, Jim Johnson (USA) 71-74-76, Arjun Singh (IND) 71-74-76, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 74-71-76, Stephen Lindskog (SWE) 73-71-77
222 – Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 73-73-76
223 – Hsieh Chin-sheng (TPE) 73-73-77
226 – Lu Wei-lan (TPE) 74-72-80