Overseas Watch: Kiradech makes recovery, seeks good finish in Turkey

Sun 04 Nov 2018

Overseas Watch: Kiradech makes recovery, seeks good finish in Turkey


By V. Krishnaswamy in Antalya

Antalya, Turkey, November 3: Kiradech Aphibarnrat got his smile back as he came in with a four-under 67 with four birdies on the back nine and some clutch putts on the third day of the Turkish Airlines Open on Saturday. 

He is now 10-under -par 203, but seven shots behind leader Li Haotong(63). He lies T-9 and fancies another good outing at a tournament, where he has finished in Top-10 twice in last three appearances. He is also seeking a second successive Top-10 after being T-4 at WGC-HSBC Champions last week. 

This is Kiradech's fifth appearance in Turkish Airlines Open and he has two Top-10s - he was third in 2015 and T-6 in 2017. In 2013 he was T-54th and in 2016 he was T-25 .

Last year at DP World Tour Championships in Dubai, he finished T-2 and one shot behind winner, Jon Rahm of Spain. 

As Kiradech moved up eight spots, Wade Ormsby (69) stayed at T-31, but Matt Wallace (71), the Hero Indian Open winner this year, dropped a double bogey on 18th and fell from overnight T-12 to T-37 and was naturally very disappointed.

Gavin Green was going great guns with two birdies on front nine in first six holes, but on the back nine, he gave back bogeys on 10th and 15th and a double bogey on 18th to card 73 and fall to T-43.

Shubhankar Sharma (70) finally looked like warming up to the course with two birdies and no bogeys before he hit into the water and dropped a shot on last, but his closing hole was the 10th, as he started from the 11th, from where the back nine starts. He stays at T-53.

For the third day running, Scott Hend dropped a double bogey - he had two doubles on each of the first two days. But on Saturday, he also had six birdies, four of them on back nine for a 67 that lifted him from T-74 to T-63, while Wang Jeunghun (74) dropped from T-45 to T-67.

The normally consistent Justin Rose very uncharacteristically went into the water three times in the matter of nine holes, the second half of his third round at the Turkish Airlines Open on Saturday. His two shot lead not just evaporated but he found himself three behind the new leader Li Haotong, who in January had held off Rory McIlry to win the Dubai Desert Classic.

Li  brought home a stunning 63 that included a chip-in birdie and a 173-yard hole out for an eagle on Par-4 tenth, to open up a three-shot lead over defending champion Rose (69) and Alexander Levy (66) heading into the final round.

Li is 17-under, while Rose and Levy are 14-under.

If Li wins, he will be the first Asian to win a Rolex Series event on European Tour.

Kiradech, who is having a solid year, had a slow start with one birdie and one bogey on the front nine. "But I had a superb back nine with four birdies and that last putt for par on 18th was a relief after the double yesterday," said Kiradech. "Yesterday I was very disappointed. After being three-under on front nine, I had eight straight pars and finished with a double bogey to throw away the opportunity for a good finish."

Today was a slow start, 

I am happy with my playing and hopefully it (Sunday) will be my day. STarting hot and then keep going till the last hole. A low score is possible any day on this course, like Li (Haotong) did today. There is a bunch of birdie out there on this course. Depends on where you hit; if you hit the right positions there is a lot of birdies out there. You can even shoot 10-under here. If I start well and put pressure on Li and the final group will be difficult and they will be play against each other."

On Saturday, Kiradech starting at six-under, birdied the fourth for the third time in three days but gave away the gains on the next hole. He parred the next four before getting back-to-back birdies on tenth and 11th. He had another pair of birdies on 15th and 16th to get to double figures.

On his play this season, Kiradech added, "This year I have much more experience, I work with my swing coach, which I never had before and I have mental coach. Everyone in my team it's working well, all my time is perfect. We are all moving in the right way." 

Sharma said, "It was a better day than previous two. I found more fairways, hit a lot of greens and had a lot of chances from 15 feet and less, but despite getting the right read and line, the ball did not drop. Still I am fine, as overall the game is in good shape. There is one more round to try and improve my place."

Li said, “I really want to win this week and play my best tomorrow. Especially at a Rolex Series event. It's going to be an exciting day tomorrow and I'm looking forward to going against Rosey

He added, "I definitely got a lot of confidence from Dubai and since then I've been playing a lot of big events which has built my confidence, also."

Of his chip-in and then the eagle, Li said, "That was quite a special moment for myself, and second shot was like 173 something and 8-iron, tried to hit a high fade, which I did, but little bit flyer high and finished pin-high, which is a little long, and lucky from the top and rolls in.."

He added, "Nine was chip-in. Yesterday I did the same thing but I hit the flag, kicked out and today was just lucky, went in." It was the fourth time he had holed out from off the green this week.

Despite his troubles on Saturday, Rose kept his humour intact, when asked if he remembered the last time he went into the water three times in a round. He shot back, "No, I can't. I'm pretty good at forgetting things. Made a career of that. I can't remember yesterday."

He added, "I can't change today obviously, so the position I'm in is the position I'm in. It's not a bad position. Of course, it could have been better. Going into tomorrow, I'm in a good spot. At the start of the week, you might have said, you know what, I'll chance my luck and take that and see how Sunday pans out."

Rose needs a win to move back to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking while Levy, who already has a win this season at the Trophée Hassan II, is looking for European Tour title number six.