Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, February 11: Reigning Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett streaked into a three-shot third round lead after shooting a five-under-par 67 at the Maybank Championship on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Englishman, who trailed by one stroke overnight, sank six birdies, including at the final two holes, at Saujana Golf and Country Club to lead from 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion David Lipsky of the United States, who returned a 68.
Frenchman Alexander Levy fired a 67 on another sun-kissed day at the US$3 million tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour for third place, four back of Willett while Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat (66) and K.T. Kim of Korea (69) were amongst those bunched in equal fourth position, five strokes back.
Indian star Anirban Lahiri, the 2015 Asian Tour number one, missed a bunch of putts in his round of 69 to end the third round in a share of ninth position.
Willett showed his class on golf’s “Moving Day” to lead on 16-under-par 200 but was somewhat fortuitous on the par five 18th hole when his approach shot ended behind a spectator’s marquee before going on to make an unlikely birdie.
Interesting Facts for the Day
- Willett was the only player in the top-15 to birdie the closing two holes in his round of 67, which included four other birdies against a lone bogey.
- Willett has needed only 1.61 putts per greens in regulation through three rounds, ranking first in this stat category. He has also hit 81.4% greens in regulation at Saujana, which he was attached as its touring professional for several years.
- Willett is chasing his sixth European Tour victory on Sunday. He won twice last season, including the Masters Tournament for his first Major victory.
- Willett led or was tied for the lead going into the final round in three of his tournament wins in Germany, South Africa and Dubai.
- In 54 holes, Willett has dropped only two bogeys and accumulated 18 birdies.
- Lipsky is chasing his third Asian Tour victory and second European Tour title.
- He shot five birdies on his card, including three on the par five holes.
- The last winner at Saujana in 2009 was Korean-American Anthony Kang. Lipsky, who was the Asian Tour number in 2014, is also Korean-American.
- Panuphol shot seven birdies during his third round of 66. It was also his best third round score in four tournaments this season. He shot 74, 73, 73 in Singapore, Myanmar and Bangladesh respectively in the third round.
- Panuphol, nicknamed “Coconut”, finished fourth in Bangladesh last Sunday on his 24th birthday. He is chasing a first Asian Tour victory.
- Kim shot four birdies against a lone bogey. He did not birdie any of the par five holes. He was six under on the par fives entering the third round.
- Kim has won 13 times on the Japan Golf Tour, including three times last year, and twice on the Asian Tour. He is chasing a first European Tour-sanctioned victory.
- Overnight leader Bernd Wiesberger, who shot nine straight birdies on Friday, carded a 73 to fall into tied fourth place on 205.
“They call it Moving Day and in the last three events of the third round, I think I’m plus eight. I’ve been playing my first and last rounds really good. This week, I’ve kept to my routine.” – Panuphol Pittayarat
Danny Willett (Eng) – Third Round 67 (-5), Total (-16) 200
I hit an okay drive (on 18) and it leaked a little bit and nipped in by the palm trees on the right. I had 221 yards for a 247 flag and just tried to hit a big cut down out of the right. It was pretty tricky, you needed to miss that first palm tree with the leaves hanging over.
I hit it well but it’s just gone absolutely bullet straight, and in the air I’m thinking it should probably pitch just short of the grandstand and it flew a lot further then I thought! It could have gone anywhere but luckily it’s just gone around the back and you just go and drop in the drop zone. It comes and goes, the luck. I missed a couple of putts but there were a couple of loose swings in there. I still hit good shots when I needed to hit them.
I would have taken a 67 at the start of the day. It spreads the top five and top six guys out a bit more and further away, and I’m probably going to go hit a few and make a few little minor tweaks here and there and try to get the driver to where it’s been most of the week.
I’m not sure what will win it to be honest, depends on if we pitch up and it’s flat calm. I think there’s a few guys that can go low if it’s windy like this. One or two under par is a good knock out there so I think it all depends on the weather tomorrow.
David Lipsky (USA) – Third Round 68 (-4), Total 203 (-13)
I played really well today, didn’t it my best coming into the greens. I drove it well and scrambled well and I’m pretty happy with what I shot. Just keep doing what I’m doing. I’m playing pretty well and giving myself opportunities. I’ll need to take advantage of the par fives. That’s what I need to do. My last birdie before 18 was on 10 so I’m happy to have made that. Danny and I are friends and it’ll be neat out there competing.
Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha) – Third Round 66 (-6), Total 205 (-11)
The key this week has been to hit fairways and greens and to hole some putts. Today, I holed a lot of putts. I was striking it really well, didn’t hole enough putts the first two rounds and I’ve spent a lot of time on the practice putting green and I guess it paid off.
They call it Moving Day and in the last three events of the third round, I think I’m plus eight. I’ve been playing my first and last rounds really good. This week, I’ve kept to my routine. I’ve tried to not think it’s Saturday. I just tried to think it’s a practice round, take it easy and chill out. It came out really good.
It’s the first time in seven years that I’ve not missed the cut in my first three events. I’ve prepared myself really well for the new year. I’m hungry for it and I want it really bad but as I’ve said, I will try to stick to my routine and take it easy.
K.T. Kim (Kor) – Third Round 69 (-3), Total 205 (-11)
I made a three putt bogey on the second hole. Hit my irons pretty good but some of my tee shots were not good. From the 11th, it was a bit better but I missed many birdie chances on the last four holes. It’s okay as I missed a few tee shots.
The greens here are difficult. Like on 16, it looks like a right to left break but the grains go from left to right. So it’s difficult to figure them out. I didn’t birdie any of the par fives today which isn’t good. Five shots behind the leader is quite tough. Just keep trying. Playing my irons good and if I can hole a few more putts and have a good start, maybe I have a chance.
Scores after round 3 of the Maybank Championship being played at the par 72, 7186 Yards Saujana GCC course (am – denotes amateur):
200 – Danny WILLETT (ENG) 66-67-67.
203 – David LIPSKY (USA) 68-67-68.
204 – Alexander LEVY (FRA) 69-68-67.
205 – Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 69-70-66, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 70-69-66, K.T. KIM (KOR) 68-68-69, Mike LORENZO-VERA (FRA) 70-65-70, Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 69-63-73.
206 – Fabrizio ZANOTTI (PAR) 70-69-67, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 69-68-69.
207 – Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 68-68-71.
208 – LI Hao-tong (CHN) 71-69-68, Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 73-68-67, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71-68-69, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 66-72-70.
209 – Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 65-75-69, Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG) 72-68-69, Paul PETERSON (USA) 71-70-68, Pablo LARRAZABAL (ESP) 72-67-70, Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 73-66-70, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 70-67-72, Haydn PORTEOUS (RSA) 70-72-67.
210 – Renato PARATORE (ITA) 69-71-70, Rashid KHAN (IND) 72-68-70, Ben LEONG (MAS) 70-71-69, Marc WARREN (SCO) 63-75-72, Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 66-71-73, Marcel SIEM (GER) 66-71-73.
Maybank – Humanising Financial Services
Maybank is among Asia’s leading banking groups and South East Asia’s fourth largest bank by assets. The Maybank Group has an international network of 2,400 offices in 20 countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong SAR & People’s Republic of China, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Great Britain and the United States of America. The Group offers an extensive range of products and services, which includes consumer and corporate banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, stock broking, insurance and takaful and asset management. It has over 44,000 employees worldwide (www.maybank.com)
GlobalOne (Emerald Evolution Holdings Sdn Bhd) is an executive lifestyle sports promoter and we create sports event ownerships.
We specialise in providing the full spectrum in sponsorship event management and have an excellent track record in planning and delivering on PGA European Tour golf events for Malaysia (Maybank Malaysian Open), Singapore (Singapore Masters) and Indonesia (Indonesia Open) since 1999. We have strong relations with sports governing bodies, the media and commercial sponsors and technical partners to deliver on the bottom line.
We assist all our clients to create strategic, high-return, best practice sponsorship to provide a strong, unified vision, across departments and stakeholders, of the broad range of marketing and business objectives that can be achieved through this sponsorship. We also form and maintain strong relationship with players’ managers to source the best players. GlobalOne has staged a highly successful and prestigious tournament in Asia – the Maybank Malaysian Open, (2006 – 2015) which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour providing the event with Official World Ranking status.
About the European Tour
The European Tour celebrates men’s professional golf on a global stage. In 2016, the European Tour International Schedule features 47 tournaments in 27 countries, all part of the Race to Dubai, the year-long competition which crowns the European Tour Number One at the end of the season, a title claimed in 2015 by Rory McIlroy for the third time.
Since its formation in 1972, the European Tour has witnessed 25 Members celebrate a total of 51 Major Championship titles between them, enjoyed ten Members attaining the pinnacle of World Number One and has celebrated its diversity as players from 36 different countries have won on Tour.
The European Tour also manages the Challenge Tour, which features 28 tournaments in 22 countries in 2016, and the Senior Tour, which features 13 tournaments in nine countries in 2016. It is also the Managing Partner of Ryder Cup Europe, the body which, alongside the PGA of America, administers golf’s greatest team contest, The Ryder Cup.
The European Tour broadcasts live coverage of its tournaments to over 490 million homes in more than 150 countries every week, generating in excess of 2200 global broadcast hours for each event. It also enjoys the support of many of the world’s leading business brands with Rolex, BMW, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Emirates and Titleist as Official Partners.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Sponsor), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official Business Publication Sponsor) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
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About Saujana Golf & Country Club
Founded in 1984, Saujana Golf and Country Club offers two 18-hole golf courses namely ‘Palm Course’ and ‘Bunga Raya Course’. These courses are exquisitely designed for championship play by the renowned golf course landscaped architect, Ronald Fream Design Group California, USA & Ted Parslow of E&G Parslow, Australia. The two world renowned courses, have been accorded countless international accolades including “The best Championship Course in Asia (Palm Course)” by Asian Golf Monthly 2005 and # 69 “Top 100 Best Courses outside the USA (Bunga Raya Course)”by Golf Digest 2005. Further voted in the World’s Top 1000 Golf Courses by Rolex & 6th Toughest Course in the World (Palm Course) by CNNGo.com 2012. SGCC is the 15th Member of the exclusive European Tour Properties, only the third outside of Europe and the first in Malaysia to be an official European Tour Destination. Saujana Golf & Country Club is also nestled alongside the beauty of two hotels, namely The Saujana Kuala Lumpur and The Club Saujana Resort.