Kulacz Closes in on Maiden Victory at Brunei Open

Sat 23 Aug 2008

Kulacz Closes in on Maiden Victory at Brunei Open

Bandar Seri Begawan, August 23: Australian rookie Rick Kulacz surged into the third round lead at the US$300,000 Brunei Open on Saturday with Asia's most prolific winner Thaworn Wiratchant and Korea's Ted Oh snapping at his heels.

Kulacz, playing in his first season on the Asian Tour, fired a flawless four-under-par 67 to snatch a one-shot lead from Thai star Thaworn, who holds a record 10 titles in the region, and overnight leader Oh.

Thaworn dropped a bogey at his last hole for a 66 at a blustery Empire Hotel and Country Club while Oh, bidding for his maiden Asian Tour title, battled to a 71.

Last year's runner-up Adam Le Vesconte of Australia shot a 67 to move into contention and lie three off the pace alongside compatriot Andrew Dodt (66), Thailand's Somkiat Srisanga (70) and Chinese Taipei's Lu Wen-teh (69).

Although the 23-year-old Kulacz is chasing his first win on the Asian Tour, the Australian has previously tasted victory in a professional tournament when he won the 2006 New South Wales Open when he was an amateur.

"It's good to be leading," said Kulacz, who was the 2001 world junior champion. "I'm going to have fun tomorrow and see where it takes me. If I play well and win, so be it. If someone else plays better than I do, good on him."

With winds swirling in the afternoon, Perth-based Kulacz showed his growing maturity with a composed performance. He knocked in five footers for birdies on the second and eighth holes, sank a 10 footer on 13 and then rolled in a 30-foot curler on 16 for his three-day total of 12-under-par 201.

"I just played the percentages well. I didn't do anything silly out there. I didn't hit a lot of drivers, just a lot of three woods and two irons to get the ball in play. I took my birdies where I could and didn't go for the pins. It worked out pretty well," said the slightly-built Aussie.

The 41-year-old Thaworn, Asia's number one in 2005, surged into contention with his seven-birdie round. He turned in one under with two birdies against a lone bogey before hitting a birdie trail where he sank five birdies over a run of six holes after making the turn. An errant drive which landed in the jungle at the tough par four 18th saw him drop a second bogey of the round and out of the lead.

"I hit a lot of good tee shots except for the last and my putting came in at the right now. After turning in one under, I didn't think I could get close to the lead but I started making putts, so I'm quite happy," said Thaworn, who won his 10th career title at the Bangkok Airways Open earlier this year.

"Anything can happen tomorrow. It doesn't matter if I've won many titles and the others are looking for their first win. If I keep playing well and everything falls into place, I can win the Brunei Open," said the Thai.

Oh, who led by one stroke at the halfway stage, started strongly with three birdies over his opening five holes but ran into trouble soon after with two bogeys and one double bogey in the middle of his round.

The US-based Korean said he paid the price for being too aggressive playing in tough conditions. "I played terribly. It started to rain and it got windier and I still tried to force it. I was already three under and should have held on to it. I tried to go for the shots in tough conditions and it backfired," said Oh.

"I still have a chance. But I have to stay patient and play like how I did in the first two days. I made a few mistakes and tried to be too aggressive when I didn't need to," said Oh.

Brunei amateur Seruji Setia, who became the first local player to make the halfway cut in the four-year championship, carded 76 to lie in tied 61st place on 215.

Leading third round scores

201 - Rick Kulacz (AUS) 68-66-67

202 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 67-69-66, Ted Oh (KOR) 65-66-71

204 - Andrew Dodt (AUS) 66-72-66, Adam Le Vesconte (AUS) 70-67-67, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 70-65-69, Somkiat Srisanga (THA) 64-70-70

205 - Mitchell Brown (AUS) 69-70-66, Chang Tse-peng (TPE) 69-67-69, Anthony Kang (USA) 68-68-69, Scott Hend (AUS) 69-65-71

206 - Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 72-69-65, Adam Blyth (AUS) 67-74-65, Darren Beck (AUS) 69-70-67, David Gleeson (AUS) 69-70-67, Iain Steel (MAS) 69-70-67, Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 69-68-69, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 65-67-74

207 - Lin Wen-Hong (TPE) 68-71-68, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 67-70-70, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 69-69-69, Will Yanagisawa (USA) 68-69-70, Marcus Both (AUS) 68-68-71

About the Brunei Open 2008

The Brunei Open is celebrating its fourth edition following its historic launch in 2005. The Championship is organized by Brunei Tourism under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and the Ministry of Youth and Sports and will once again be staged at the award-winning The Empire Hotel and Country Club, Asia's Ultimate Golf, Spa & Family Beach Resort which is a signature Jack Nicklaus course. The Brunei Open 2008 sponsors are Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd (Title Sponsor); Profitable Group (Presenting Sponsor), The Empire Hotel and Country Club (Host Venue and Official Hotel), Srixon (Official Ball), Cross Creek (Official Apparel), and CityNeon (Official Contractor).  The Brunei Open is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, which is the governing body for professional tournament golf in Asia and locally by the Brunei Darussalam Golf Association.

About Brunei Tourism

Brunei Darussalam, a peaceful and wealthy kingdom on the northern shores of Borneo, is known for having one of the most pristine tropical rainforest environments anywhere, as well as for the pomp and opulence of its centuries old monarchy, steeped in ancient Malay traditions. With easy international direct access through its Royal Brunei Airlines carrier and other regional airlines, and with an up-market product and image appealing to discerning travelers, Brunei is an exciting and safe new destination waiting to be discovered. For more information on Brunei please visit www.bruneitourism.travel

About Brunei Shell Petroleum

Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP), a dynamic, world-class company and one of the biggest energy companies in Asia, have a long standing history in Brunei of more than 75 years and are at the leading edge of energy technology putting the safety and environment at the heart of everything and invests in the people and community of Brunei.

About Profitable Group

The Profitable Group encompasses a range of activities from the highly commercial to the philanthropic and encompasses such diverse sectors as real estate, software and IT based application, security, food produce and the arts world. The Profitable Group exists to increase the wealth of its clients, its employees and its owners, through the provision of strategically selected products that offer exceptional returns along with risk that has been professionally assessed and minimized.

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, ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Sofitel (Official Hotel) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.


For further information, please contact the Asian Tour's Chuah Choo Chiang at the Brunei Open media centre at tel: +673 241 7695. Also visit www.asiantour.com