Hiratsuka Edges Ahead

Sat 07 Feb 2009

Hiratsuka Edges Ahead

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Bangkok, February 7: Japan?s Tesuji Hiratsuka continued his title charge at the Asian Tour International by battling to a four-under-par 67 on Saturday to set up what would be an exciting finale to the season-opening event on the Asian Tour.
The 37-year-old Japanese takes a slender one shot lead over Australia?s Unho Park, heading into the final round at the Suwan Golf and Country Club on Sunday.
Park returned with a 66 for a 13-under-par 200 total and is two shots ahead of India?s Rahil Gangjee and South Africa?s James Kamte, who are both tied for third after posting matching 202s at the US$300,000 full-field Asian Tour event.
Hiratsuka started strongly with an opening birdie, followed by three more on the fifth, sixth and eighth. He dropped two shots on the ninth and 12th, but recorded birdies on the 11th and 13th to ensure that he would finish as the third round leader after Park and Gangjee both failed to hold on to their early lead.
?I think what was key for me today was my putting. My tee shots were not very good but I got away with it with my putting,? said Hiratsuka.
?It?s going to get very exciting tomorrow as I think it?ll be a close call for the title, especially with the leaderboard always changing today,? added the Japanese.
Midway through the day, Park took the lead with his eagle two at the 13th hole.
The 35-year-old Australian never looked likely to surrender his lead after that, especially with his birdie blitz on the 14th and 15th.
However, two costly bogeys on the 16th and 17th marred his card for what could have otherwise been a flawless display of golf for the 35-year-old Australian.
?I didn?t really hit it well off the tee today but I must say that I putted really well instead. I holed a lot of long putts,? said Park.
?There were some good shots and some bad shot but there?s still everything to play for tomorrow and I?m looking forward to it,? added Park who is seeking his maiden breakthrough on the Asian Tour.
Meanwhile, Gangjee had the honours of recording the season?s first hole-in-one after his shot, which surprised even himself, on the third hole dropped into the cup from 169 yards.
?It was a horrible shot but it still went into the hole. I didn?t really see it going into the hole because I was blocked and I could only see it land. As I was walking towards the hole, I still couldn?t see the ball and to my surprise it was in the hole,? said Gangjee.
That hole-in-one lifted him up to a share of the lead then after early co-leaders Toni Karjalainen of Finland and Australia?s Marcus Both had dropped a shot each on the second hole.
But the Indian slipped down to tied-third after he bogeyed the par-four eighth.
He made a quick recovery with a birdie on the ninth before starting his inward nine in 33. However, after posting another bogey on the 16th, Gangjee could only end the day in tied-third.
?I think I made my first two bogeys of the tournament today. But overall, I?m pretty happy with the way I?m scoring even though I?m not really satisfied with the way I?m hitting it. But let?s see what happens tomorrow,? said Gangjee.
Leading third round scores
199 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 64-68-67
200 - Unho Park (AUS) 65-69-66
202 - James Kamte (RSA) 71-63-68, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 65-69-68
203 - Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 67-71-65, Ted Oh (KOR) 68-66-69, Marcus Both (AUS) 63-68-72
204 - Toni Karjalainen (FIN) 66-64-74
205 - Danny Chia (MAS) 67-69-69, Prom Meesawat (THA) 69-68-68,Iain Steel (MAS) 72-63-70, Mark Purser (NZL) 68-66-71
206 - Young Nam (KOR) 72-68-66,Tim Stewart (AUS) 69-69-68,Daisuke Maruyama (JPN) 71-66-69, Gavin Flint (AUS) 67-69-70, Wilhelm Schauman (SWE) 68-69-69, Matthew Griffin (AUS) 71-66-69, Rhys Davies (WAL) 69-66-71, Hirotaro Naito (JPN) 67-66-73
Selected scores
207 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 71-68-68
Ends.
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 Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider), TIME and FORTUNE (Corporate Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.
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