Both edges ahead at the Asian Golf Championship
Xiamen, China, December 2: Three-time Asian Tour winner Marcus Both leveraged on his immense experience and sound course management to card a three-under-par 69 and seize the third-round lead by one at the KG S&H CITY Asian Golf Championship on Saturday.
The 38-year-old Both, who claimed his breakthrough Asian Tour win at the 2003 Sanya Open in China, put on a flawless performance to compile a three-day total of six-under-par 210 at Kaikou Golf Club’s West course.
Staying the day with a three-shot deficit, Both rode on his hot putter to stay bogey-free for 36 holes and move atop the leaderboard with birdies on the sixth, 14th and 15th holes at the challenging Greg Norman-designed course.
Overnight leader Bowen Xiao of China slipped to second following a 71 while England’s Callum Tarren (70) and Namchok Tantipokhakul (74) of Thailand shared third on 213 in the US$350,000 event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the China Golf Association.
Liu Yan-wei, highest-ranked Chinese player on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) in the field this week, remained in contention for a maiden win after battling to a 72 to stay five shots off the pace in fifth place on his own.
Did you know:
- Marcus Both has won three times on the Asian Tour, 2003 in China, 2009 in Cambodia and 2014 in the Philippines.
- Both enjoyed his best result on the Asian Tour this season at the 2017 Yeangder Tournament Players Championship, where he came in tied-19th.
- Bowen Xiao sits in 22nd place on the current China Tour Order of Merit. The 27-year-old Xiao is in the running for one of the five spots on offer to the Final Stage of the 2018 Asian Tour Qualifying School.
- His best round on the China Tour this year was a second-round six-under-par 65, carded at the Yulongwan Yunnan Open where he finished tied-10th.
- Callum Tarren is making his Asian Tour debut this week. He is riding high on his confidence after claiming a victory in China last month.
- Tarren sits in third place on the current China Tour Order of Merit. A victory on Sunday will earn him the Order of Merit crown as well as playing rights on the European Tour next season.
- Namchok won his first Asian Development Tour title last year. He came close to winning his first Asian Tour title at the Indonesia Open in October before settling for tied-third.
- Only five players are in the red numbers after 54 holes at the KG S&H CITY Asian Golf Championship.
- Two-time Asian Tour winner Prom Meesawat of Thailand reeled in 18 straight pars for a 72. He trails by seven in tied-seventh place.
Marcus Both (Aus) – Third Round 69 (-3), Total 210 (-6)
Yesterday, I didn’t know that I was bogey free. Today, I’m a bit more aware of that.
I was really grinding hard for that par putt on the 18th. When you have the lead at a golf tournament, every shot counts. My focus was not to waste any shots because at the end of the week, that one particular shot may be pivotal. But at the end of the day, it was just saving a shot and that’s what I have done well so far.
I thought that this is a second-shot golf course. You have to hit it on the right sections on the green to give yourself some opportunities. I didn’t do a good job today compared to the previous two days. I hit three close shots and took advantage of them.
Apart from that, I was just working my way through, where I can leave my first putt for an easy second putt. It’s difficult when you have that mentality. Thankfully, I managed to hole those second putts.
At any point in time, it’s nice to feel like you are playing well. It’s been pretty good for a while now. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play enough events to feel like you can build on something.
I am playing in my 10th event in 11 weeks. I have always learned something from every tournament. Hopefully I can put what I’ve learned into practice this week.
Even if I am even par, as opposed to six under, all I can do is, my best. It is a bit of a cliché, but it’s one shot at a time. My job is to play as well as I can.
That tee shot at 18th was awkward with the wind in and off the left. I don’t feel like I have the right firepower to clear the right bunker comfortably. I was trying to start left and hit a little cut. But, I hit a dead pull. I got lucky and the ball nestled on the cart path. I got relief from there. That was followed by a chip that was two feet in landing from being absolutely perfect. It checked up before going down the green. Then, I hit a beautiful putt for par.
On the 15th, I nearly holed my tee shot. I felt like I pinched one on the field. The pin was quite tricky so I’m glad that I don’t have much work to do there.
Bowen Xiao (Chn) – Third Round 73 (+1), Total 211 (-5)
I started to think a lot after I got to three-over at the start but the birdie on ninth calm me down a little bit and another birdie on 10th helped me regain some confidence heading into the round. I kept telling myself I am not down with the round yet and I need to play well in the remaining holes.
I didn’t start off well but I managed to bounce back on the back so I am happy with my 73. I made a very good birdie on the 17th hole after making the putt from about 13 yards. I missed a lot of short putts out there but that birdie putt on 17 was definitely a confidence booster.
I realized my tempo was a little bit faster than usual today. I will try and pace myself better tomorrow. I will go back and practice on my putting today. I putted really badly today. I hope to stay composed and keep to my own momentum tomorrow.
The aim is to hit it as close as I can and put myself in a good position. I am still in a good position. I won’t give myself too much pressure. I need to stay patient and not play too aggressively.
Callum Tarren (Eng) – Third Round 70 (-2), Total 213 (-3)
It was quite a good round even though I didn’t finish well. It was disappointing to finish with a bogey and a double-bogey but still some positives to take into the final round tomorrow. I hit some good shots today and I putted well. I took good control of the ball for most of the day.
It was windy out there but I feel comfortable with the wind. This is my first time playing on the Asian Tour. It’s been great so far. The course is good although it’s pretty tough. The tournament is very well organized.
I’m just going to head back and decompress and just to chill out. I still have a chance tomorrow so we will see. My goal is to win the tournament and win the China Tour Order of Merit tomorrow to get playing status on the European Tour. That’s the aim.
You need to hit it in position off the tee and keep your ball on the fairways. I did that all day. It was still a decent round. I won in China last month and I had a second-placed finish in Hong Kong earlier. I have played well for eight weeks now. I am definitely riding on good form coming into this week.
Namchok Tantipokhakul (Tha) – Third Round 74 (+2), Total 213 (-3)
It was nice to finish with a birdie. I chipped it in from the bunker edge from about 20 yards on the 18th hole. It wasn’t as windy as yesterday. My short game wasn’t good. I was feeling a little nervous too playing in the last group.
I wasn’t thinking much out there. I just want to play my own game and enjoy myself out there. I told myself to keep calm and not think too much. I’m still in a good position for tomorrow so I will try my very best again.
Tee shots are key to play well on this golf course. You need to putt well too as the greens are really tricky here. I am looking forward to the final round tomorrow. I will just go all out and do my best.
Liu Yan-wei (Chn) – Third Round 72 (even-par) Total 215 (-1)
72 is a decent number on this course. I played pretty steadily today. I could have made a couple more birdies, but I’m just happy with how I played.
I made a good putt for birdie on 13th. It was about 15 feet away and it was so far downhill.
The wind was similar to yesterday’s conditions, so it definitely didn’t play easy. Pins I felt, are harder. But it is what it is. You just have to manage and make the right decisions.
I definitely want to get a good round tomorrow. I felt pretty good about my game. I’m going to adopt the same routine and same course management. This week, my decisions have been pretty smart. I want to keep this rhythm going.
Scores after round 3 of the KG S&H City Asian Golf Championship being played at the par 72, 7012 Yards Kaikou Golf Club course (am – denotes amateur):
210 – Marcus BOTH (AUS) 72-69-69.
211 – Bowen XIAO (CHN) 71-67-73.
213 – Callum TARREN (ENG) 69-74-70, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 68-71-74.
215 – LIU Yan-wei (CHN) 69-74-72.
216 – Bryden MACPHERSON (AUS) 74-70-72.
217 – Sunil JUNG (CAN) 74-74-69, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 73-72-72.
218 – Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) 74-75-69.
219 – HAK Shun Yat (HKG) 73-75-71, Michael SKELTON (ENG) 72-76-71, HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 69-78-72, LEE Chieh-po (TPE) 71-75-73.
220 – Nicolas PAEZ (USA) 71-77-72, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 73-75-72, Ryann REE (USA) 69-79-72, Teemu PUTKONEN (FIN) 69-78-73, Quincy QUEK (SIN) 75-71-74, Giwhan KIM (KOR) 73-73-74.
221 – SU Dong (CHN) 73-77-71, Nicholas FUNG (M