"Els Makes his Move, Both and Bhullar Shine with 65s"

Sat 30 Mar 2013

"Els Makes his Move, Both and Bhullar Shine with 65s"

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Chiangmai, March 30: Ernie Els shot his lowest round of the season with a six-under-par 66 to move into the top-10 of the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT in the early stages of the third round on Saturday.
The South African, a four-time Major winner and nicknamed the Big Easy, certainly made it look easy with seven birdies against a lone bogey at the immaculate Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai as he moved up the leaderboard with his three-day score of 10-under-par 206.
Australian Marcus Both currently holds the clubhouse lead on 204 after a stellar 65 which included one eagle and three birdies over his closing five holes as he stepped up his chase for a third Asian Tour victory.
Marcus Both Marcus Both
Saturday was certainly Moving Day as India’s young star Gaganjeet Bhullar matched Both’s 65 to move up the board with his 205 total but the biggest mover of all was Els, who is wielding a short putter this week in place of his regular belly putter which he used to win the British Open last July.
Els, who will revert back to the long putter for the Masters Tournament in two weeks’ time, needed 27 putts for his round, the lowest so far this week, and felt he could have made an ever bigger move.
“Yeah. Obviously I could have done a little bit better. I gave myself chances. The greens were nice and smooth and a little bit quicker. I made a couple of putts and was trying to squeeze some birdies out of the course on the last couple of holes but didn’t hit good shots,” said Els.
“It is getting better. I haven’t had a good year up to now. I haven’t played great rounds. I’ve needed this and I’ve been working hard on the short putter. Obviously, today was a little easier on the greens. Hopefully I can build on that. I wanted to go low but I’m going in the right direction with a 66. Maybe I’ll go a little bit lower tomorrow.”
Playing alongside three-time Asian Tour winner Anirban Lahiri, Els was full of praise of the young Indian. “He is a good player … lots of talent. He is a player who can break through. He has a lot of length. He hits the ball miles and has a really strong game. He has a good short game as well so I see some good things coming from him,” said Els.
“He is young so he has to keep playing and trying to win some tournaments out here and go up the ladder. He just needs to keep working hard.”
Both was over the moon with his strong finish, which included a 15-foot eagle on 14 after he punched a low five iron shot beneath some branches which set up a grandstand finish.
“It was a good finish. Before that, I made a couple of bogeys which I was a bit disappointed with. One three putt on the long par three 12th and missed the green on 13 which I didn’t get up and down,” said Both.
“I hit a really good second shot into 14 and made the putt for eagle and then hit a nice shot on 15 and made birdie. Sort of missed a makeable one on 16 and then birdied 17 and 18 with a couple of two, three footers. It was good. I’m not going to be disappointed with a 65 but I was playing with Pariya (Junhasavasdikul) and he reminded me that I should have been a few better! I’ll take it but there’s still a lot of golf out there for the leaders and I’m sure they’ll shoot a decent number. I’m sure I’ve got a bit of work tomorrow.”
Bhullar is looking forward to a big Sunday push after hauling himself back into contention at the new US$750,000 full-field Asian Tour event, which is offering the highest world ranking points in Asia this week.
Gaganjeet Bhullar Gaganjeet Bhullar
“I played well. I hit the ball really good and close. I had many opportunities. Anyway it was moving day. There are still another 18 holes. I’m very excited to play on Sunday especially with the way my game is shaping up,” said the four-time winner.
“I can definitely expect another low one coming. I’ve been striking the ball well but today was one of those days where I felt better on the greens. As a result the score was better than the last two days. I want to take this tempo into the last two days.
“I didn’t do anything on the driving range but did a lot of work on the putting green. That’s what I need to do for the final round. Technically, I’m feeling high on confidence and there’s nothing I can really work on my swing during tournaments. Otherwise, putting is one thing which differentiates the winner from the rest of the field.”