Hua Hin, Thailand, September 12: Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat kept his cool to maintain his overnight lead after signing for a four-under-par 68 in the penultimate round of the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation event on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Thai, who held a two-shot advantage heading into the round, stayed ahead with his three-day total of 20-under-par 196 after returning with a flawless round highlighted by four birdies at the majestic Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.
American Berry Henson (70) closed with two birdies to stay four shots back in second place with local veteran Prayad Marksaeng (68) while home town hero Prom Meesawat sits a further shot back in fourth place on his own following a 71 in the four million baht (approximately US$111,808) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
Two-time Asian Tour winner Pariya Junhasavasdikul, also of Thailand, settled for fifth place on 203 while Simon Yates of Scotland trails Kiradech by eight shots in sixth. Tournament host Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, posted a 70 to stay nine shots off the pace in seventh position.
Kiradech, who sizzled with a second round 61, lamented his poor iron-shots but took pride in his performance as he managed to cap another bogey-free outing where he has not dropped a single shot in his last 43 holes.
“I didn’t hit the ball as well as I did yesterday but I managed to take advantage of the par-fives and make birdies out there. My iron-play was not as good and I didn’t putt as well,” said Kiradech, a former Asian Tour number one in 2013 who has won twice in Europe this season.
“I managed to hang in there and kept the ball in play. I just kept playing my own game out there. I will continue to do the same tomorrow and we will see how it goes,” added Kiradech, who enjoyed a chip-in birdie from 20 yards on the 17th hole.
Henson, who traded three birdies against a lone bogey, credited his brilliant short game which kept him in the title mix for a second win on the burgeoning Tour since 2011.
“I haven’t really got in the rhythm today but I stayed patient out there as I knew I had some birdie chances coming in on the last few holes. I gave myself opportunities and I chipped well. My short game saved me today. It was good to close with two birdies,” said Henson.
“I know I can play well on this course. I’ve been playing aggressively the past two rounds but today, I was kind of defensive. I will have to work on my mindset for the final round tomorrow,” added the 36-year-old American.
Prayad, a nine-time Asian Tour winner, will be on a mission to fix his putting woes before heading into the all-important final round.
“My putting is still not good. I tried to fix it but it didn’t seem to work. It was a pity to close with a bogey. My approach shot was not good and I failed to make the long putt. I am very familiar with this golf course actually so I hope I can bank on that tomorrow. I should be able to score well if I can get my putting back in shape,” said the 49-year-old Thai.
The sponsors of the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2015 include SINGHA, Betagro, Idemitsu, Tune Insurance, Mazda, Ricoh, Oakley and Golf Pride.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
Leading third round scores
196 - Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 67 61 68
200 - Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 66 66 68, Berry HENSON (USA) 68 62 70
201 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 65 65 71
203 - Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 68 65 70
204 - Simon YATES (SCO) 72 65 67
205 - Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 68 67 70
206 - Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 70 68 68, Phiphatphong NAEWSUK (THA) 68 65 73
207 - Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 68 70 69, Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) 71 68 68, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 68 67 72
208 - Himmat RAI (IND) 72 69 67
About the Asian Development Tour
The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.