Tour survival goes into final lap in Dubai

Sat 20 Dec 2014

Tour survival goes into final lap in Dubai

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Dubai, December 20: The final day of the season at the inaugural Dubai Open on Sunday is poised to test the nerves of many fighting for their Asian Tour survival.
Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka, who is ranked 70th on the Order of Merit, ended the third round in a share of fifth place and one back of the co-leaders after fighting to a solid four-under-par 68 at the Els Club Dubai on Saturday.
Former Asian Tour number one Arjun Atwal, who does not hold a full card on any major Tours, is tied for the lead and a win or a top finish could see him jump from his current 79th position into the top-60, which is the cut off mark for players to keep their full cards.
Mo Joong-kyung of Korea Mo Joong-kyung of Korea
Thai teenager Rattanon Wannasrichan, who is 59th on the rankings, shot a fine 67 to keep his hopes alive of earnings a full Asian Tour card for the first time in his young career.  The 19-year-old sank six birdies against a lone bogey to give himself a fighting chance on Sunday.
Countryman Namchok Tantipokhakul, who is 61st on the merit list, shot a 68 to also move up to tied 22nd position while Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung, in 64th spot, shot a 68 for tied 13th place.
Rattanon, who won the team and individual gold medal at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, was delighted to find his swing after struggling over the past two rounds.
“Today my driver and irons were really good. I tried to practice at the range yesterday but it wasn’t good and this morning at the range, it wasn’t good as well. On my first hole, I hooked my driver but I hit my iron to five feet for birdie. After that, it became better. I also slowed down my tempo and started hitting some good shots. My long irons were effective and my putting was also pretty good,” said the beaming Thai.
“I feel a bit more confident but I still have to keep playing well ... one more round. Stick to my same game. My six birdies were all from close range as I hit some good wedge shots. This morning, the conditions were pretty easy although some pins were difficult.
Daisuke Kataoka of Japan Daisuke Kataoka of Japan
“I’ll try to keep making birdies tomorrow. I’m still not too sure about the Order of Merit. I’m going to relax after this, not going to practice range,” he said.
Mo, a two-time winner, is prepared for one final push to save his card.
“I finally found my rhythm going this week. It’s starting to work and you can see my scores being consistent. See how it goes tomorrow. I think top-10 or 15 could do it for me. I’ll try to play my game and not think about anything else,” said the Korean veteran.
Kataoka shot six birdies including on his closing two holes to move into contention. He is not thinking of finishing in the top-60 but wants a win in Dubai to enjoy the benefits of a winner’s exemption on the Asian Tour.
“I want to try to win the tournament to get a winner’s exemption. I holed some long putts in the last few holes for birdies. I think I have a chance tomorrow. I want to win,” he said.