Leaderboard logjam as Dubai primed for thrilling finish

Sat 20 Dec 2014

Leaderboard logjam as Dubai primed for thrilling finish

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Dubai, December 20: Indian duo Shiv Kapur and Arjun Atwal will step into the last day of the season at the inaugural Dubai Open holding the joint lead with South Africa’s Jbe Kruger and Korean teenager Wang Jeung-hun after an exhilarating third round on Saturday.
No fewer than 21 players, all within three shots of the lead, will have a chance of lifting the top prize at the majestic Els Club Dubai including Major winner Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland who fired a stunning 64 to end the day one shot back of the leading quartet.
Jbe Kruger Jbe Kruger
Power-packed Kruger also shot a 64, the week’s lowest, following a card that included the Dubai Open’s first hole-in-one and an eagle while 19-year-old Wang, who has not missed a single cut this season, shot a 68 to put himself in contention for a maiden Asian Tour victory.
Co-overnight leader Kapur, a Dubai resident, overcame two early bogeys with an inward 31 and a 69 and stayed in the joint lead on 10-under-par 206 with Atwal, who mixed six birdies against two bogeys for a 68.
Six players lie a stroke back, including Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat (67) and Pariya Junhasavasdikul (67), Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka (68), India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar (69) and Scotsman Simon Yates (69).
Two-time Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who has won twice this year, fired a 65 to lie on 208 in what promises to be a fantastic finish to the 2014 Asian Tour season.
Kapur, who won the European Challenge Tour’s season-ending tournament in Dubai last year, is hopeful of completing his double despite his bogey-bogey start. He later missed an eagle putt on 18 for the outright lead but was happy to contend again in the metropolitan city of Dubai.
“Yeah, it was a nightmare of a start. I didn't really hit any poor shots and then actually holed about a 15-footer for par on the fourth hole to sort of keep the round going,” said the 32-year-old Kapur.
“But standing on the 10th tee, I just turned to Neeraj (his caddie) and said, "I need a back nine like the front nine I did at Muirfield. Let's go out and play with that sort of attitude." I’m happy with the way I fought back. There was a time where I could completely have thrown myself out of the tournament, so I'm tied for the lead, not too bad.”
Arjun Atwal Arjun Atwal
Atwal, Asia’s number one in 2003, has not contended since becoming the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour in 2010 and reckons the hottest putter on Sunday will walk away with the Dubai Open crown. “It's been a while,” said the seven-time Asian Tour winner. “Just make a lot of putts. Make a lot of birdies. It's going to be fun tomorrow I think.”
Kruger, who pulled tractor wheels up and down a hill near his farm house in South Africa to gain power, said he left some shots out on the course despite nailing a seven iron for his ace on the par three second hole.
““I hit a seven iron but probably pitched perfect and probably trickled down,” said Kruger, who is a one-time winner in Asia. “I three-putted 17 and I probably hit it inside of 10 feet probably five times and didn't make one.  So it could have been a lot lower. But you can't complain with a round like that. I'm glad I'm in contention to actually try and win, but it all comes down to the day and all comes down to putting."
The 19-year-old Wang has proven to be one of the revelations of the season where he hasn’t missed a single cut all year. Six birdies against four two bogeys put him into uncharted territory as he seeks to end his year on a winning note.
“I just don't want to get pressure. I’ll be nervous. I will try to play my own game tomorrow. My putter improved so much and then my iron shot was good,” said Wang, who has three top-10s this year.
Darren Clarke Darren Clarke
Clarke, who won the British Open in 2011, charged up the leaderboard with with six birdies and chip-in eagle on the par four 16th hole. “I've played really well all week but made no putts and made a mess of the last hole, the ninth yesterday (for double). Hit an awful lot of good shots and holed a couple of putts today,” said Clarke.
“I shot two 64s in a Pro Am event in Turkey two weeks ago, the Banco Classic, so I'm playing better again which is nice. I'm here to play. I'm not here to make up the numbers. My timing has been off a little bit because of all the weight that I've lost.  So because of that, it's taken a bit of time and it's starting to come back now.”
The Dubai Open is promoted and organised by golf in DUBAi.  The Els Club Dubai is situated within the sprawling Dubai Sports City where the par-72 course combines links style golf with traditional 'classical era' design. Opened for play in 2008, the course stretches 7,538 yards and was named as ‘Best New International Course’ by prestigious US magazine, Links, and “Best New Facility of the Year” by Troon Golf.
Scores after round 3 of the Dubai Open being played at the par 72, 7538 Yards The Els Club Dubai course (am - denotes amateur):
206 - Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 70-72-64, WANG Jeung-hun (KOR) 71-67-68, Arjun ATWAL (IND) 73-65-68, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 71-66-69.
207 - Darren CLARKE (NIR) 72-71-64, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 71-69-67, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 68-72-67, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 73-66-68, Simon YATES (SCO) 71-67-69, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 69-69-69.
208 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 74-69-65, Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 70-71-67.
209 - Javi COLOMO (ESP) 69-73-67, Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG) 70-71-68, Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 71-70-68, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-72-68, MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-71-68, Joonas GRANBERG (FIN) 72-69-68, Bryce EASTON (RSA) 69-71-69, Joshua WHITE (ENG) 71-68-70, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 71-68-70.
211 - Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) 72-72-67, Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA) 72-72-67, Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 70-73-68, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 71-72-68, Marcus BOTH (AUS) 70-71-70, LAM Chih Bing (SIN) 67-74-70.
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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Sponsor), Oakley (Official Eyewear and Footwear Sponsor), PRG (Official Accessories Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Srixon (Official Ball), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.