Saturday September 8, 2012
Veteran Thaworn continues to shine and surges three-shot ahead
By S. RAMAGURU
SHAH ALAM: Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant turned back the clock to produce a masterclass performance and take a three-stroke lead after the third round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.
The Thai carded a superb four-under 68 yesterday for a three-day total of 13-under 203 at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club as Swedish rookie Jesper Kennegard moved into second spot after an impressive five-under 67.
Vietnam’s Michael Tran, the second day joint leader, shares third spot with reigning Asian Development Tour (ADT) No. 1 Jonathan Moore of the US and Filipino newcomer Jhonnel Ababa – five shots behind Thaworn.
Thaworn, Asia’s No. 1 in 2005, carded two birdies through the first seven holes but dropped three shots on the eighth and ninth before fighting back in style.
A 60-foot monster putt for birdie on the 10th got him back on track as he raced clear of the field.
The 45-year-old was clearly delighted with his fightback.
“It was a good comeback,” he beamed.
“After the double on eight and bogey on nine, I thought I was dead. My heart was okay but I felt like I didn’t have any power.
“On the 10th tee, I told myself that I must come back. I was aiming for two or three under but five-under ... I am really happy,” added Thaworn, who is seeking a 14th Tour title.
The unorthodox-swinging Thaworn, who won the Queen’s Cup in June to match compatriot Thongchai Jaidee for the most wins on the Asian Tour, admitted that he got lucky with his putt on the 10th.
“I hit my second shot short, maybe 28 yards to the pin but I putted it.
“My game then came back. I felt good after that. I kept hitting iron, kept the ball on the fairway and kept making birdies,” he said.
“I think I have a good chance (to win). But the second or third guy can reach the par fives in two for eagle, which I can’t. We don’t know what will happen. I will play to my strategy, aim for the fairways but this week I feel my putting is good.”
The big-hitting Kennegard, who came through the Qualifying School in January, struck it hot early on as he sank six birdies.
“I got off to a really hot start. I was four-under through five holes and three-putted for bogey on the sixth. I kind of got my putter going, then it slowed down.
“I played pretty solid on the back nine and could have sank more putts,” he said.
“It will be fun to play with Thaworn. I played nine holes with him during the practice round and it was fun to see his game. Hopefully I can give him a good match.”
The two unheralded stars of the tournament – Ababa and Tran – stayed in the title mix but acknowledged that Thaworn would be a hard man to catch.
The 28-year-old Ababa, debuting on the Asian Tour, battled to a 71 after returning early in the morning to complete the last hole of his second round.
The 22-year-old Tran endured a roller-coaster ride to sign in with a 73, which included an eagle, four birdies, three bogeys and one triple bogey.
Tran was pleased with his game despite losing the lead.
“I actually played some of my best golf but I hit some really bad iron shots. I’ll need to work on that at the range,” he said.
“It was kind of hard not to think about doing well here. But so far, I am very happy.”
Leading third round scores:
203: Thaworm Wiratchant (Tha) 66-69-68; 206: Jesper Kennegard (Swe) 70-69-67; 208: Michael Tran (Vie) 67-68-73, Jhonnel Ababa (Phi) 68-69-71, Jonathan Moore (US) 71-70-67; 209: Lam Chih Bing (Sin) 70-70-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 68-71-70, Javi Colomo (Spain) 68-69-72, Kieran Pratt (Aus) 67-71-71, Macus Both (Aus) 67-69-73;
210: Panuphol Pittayarta (Tha) 67-72-71, Jason Knutzon (US) 72-68-70, Siddukur Rahman (Ban) 73-71-66; 211: Thammanoon Sriroi (Tha) 70-71-70, Himmat Rai (Ind) 70-70-71, Nial Turner (Ire) 71-70-70, Antonio Lascuna (Phi) 72-69-70, Ron Harvey Jr (Can) 71-70-70, Lindsay Renolds (Can) 68-70-73; 212: Gavin Flint (Aus) 70-69-73, Namchok Tantipokhakul (Tha) 70-72-70, Kunal Bhasin (Aus) 71-70-71, Prom Meesawat (Tha) 69-75-68, Darren Bek (Aus) 75-67-70, Mars Pucay (Phi) 73-71-68, Pawin Ingkhapradit (Tha) 71-73-68, Panuwat Muenlek (Tha) 70-71-71, Angelo Que (Phi) 69-73-70, Rashid Khan (Ind) 69-72-71.
214: Lim Eng Seng 70-72-72, Nicholas Fung 69-73-72; 215: Danny Chia 70-73-72, Abel Tham (a) 71-73-71; 216: Airil Rizman Zahri 72-71-73, Low Khai Jea (a) 74-70-72; 218: Shaaban Hussin 70-74-74.