Chapchai Drives Ahead

Sun 16 Nov 2008

Chapchai Drives Ahead


Sentosa, November 16: Thailand's Chapchai Nirat will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Barclays Singapore Open after the conclusion of the third round on Sunday morning.

Chapchai, who finished second on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit last season, signed for a six-under-par 65 after completing his remaining eight holes with two more birdies against a lone bogey at the Sentosa Golf Club.

His three-day total of 10-under-par 203 is clear of local hope Lam Chih Bing, who signed for a 68. Lam is hoping to become Singapore's first winner of the Barclays Singapore Open, which is Asia's richest national Open.

American superstar Phil Mickelson played his way into the final pairing with Lam and Chapchai after shooting two closing birdies this morning for a 66 to lie four off the pace.


Tied with Mickelson are Ernie Els, who carded a 71, Simon Dyson (71) and Thomas Bjorn (68). Jeev Milkha Singh, Padraig Harrington and Charlie Wi will start the last round five behind Chapchai.

Chapchai knows he is on the threshold of the biggest win of his career but is not putting any pressure on himself by thinking too far ahead.

I do not want to pressure myself - I just want to play my normal game. I like the golf course and I hope to play well in the final round," said the burly Thai.

Singapore has been a good hunting ground for Chapchai, who came to prominence at the 2005 edition where he finished tied 11th. Since then, he has made a name for himself in Asia by winning twice last season but his form has dipped this year due to a back injury.

Before this week, I practiced some shots that work on this course. Last week in Shanghai I played well from tee to green but did not putt well. But in the Barclays Singapore Open I have putted well. Everything in my game is working well for the final round.

"I am not going to think that I have a three stroke lead. It is a case of hitting fairways and putting well," said Chapchai.

Lam kept up his historic chase for victory by signing for a 68. "I'm happy to be where I am. I'm surprisingly feeling very calm out here which is good. I've just played it one shot at a time. On this course you can pick up shots and drop shots easily. A three shot lead is a reasonably lead but anything can happen in golf.

"I'd love to play with Phil. He's one of my idols. But my goal will be fairways and greens in the final round. I'll just keep playing hard," said Lam.

After dropping a bogey on Saturday morning on his last hole due to a spectator camera clicking on his back swing, Mickelson enjoyed a better finish this time with two closing birdies to haul himself into the final group.

"It was a better finish and I ended up birdying a couple of holes to get into contention. I should be within a few shots off the lead heading into the final round. I'm excited of the opportunity to try and take advantage of that.

"I'm improving as the week has gone on. Hopefully I can improve in the final round. If I can shoot a low round like the third round, I should be alright," said the world number three.

Els, runner-up here in 2006, admitted that he has struggled with the weather interruptions. "It was a bit of a struggle. Yesterday, I didn't have a good rhythm. I didn't have a good start and didn't make any putts. It was a frustrating day. Then this morning, I bogeyed my first hole at 12th but started to get some rhythm going and managed some birdies for level par. I'm looking for better things. Hopefully we can get some momentum going and play 18 holes in one go later today."