Photo - Asian Tour
CHOI SLIPS BACK AT PEBBLE BEACH
Pebble Beach, California, June 20: K.J. Choi got the start he wanted at the third round of the US Open. But the finish let him down this time.
The Korean star, an Asian Tour honorary member, battled to a six-over-par 77 at Pebble Beach Golf Links and fell out of contention in the year’s second Major.
He started the day in tied 10th place, just four shots off the lead but by the time the round ended, he was 13 shots back of new leader Dustin Johnson.
There was joy for Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, who enjoyed the honour of shooting the championship’s first hole in one at the par three fifth hole with an eight iron. It was only the seventh ace at Pebble Beach in US Open history.
In the opening two rounds, Choi, a seven-time PGA Tour winner, started poorly but it was the reverse on Saturday. He went out superbly in 34 with three birdies and two bogeys to keep in touch with the leaders but struggled on the back nine with two double bogeys on the par fives and three more dropped shots.
His three day-total of seven-over-par 220 left him in a share of 23rd place but the Korean ace is determined to finish strongly on Sunday to at least match his top-10 at the Masters Tournament in April.
“I played great today but sometimes in golf things don’t work out,” said Choi, who is currently fourth on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.
Reigning Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee enjoyed the honour of shooting the first ace of the week in his round of 74 which put him in a share of 49th place on 223. On Friday, he shot an eagle.
“A hole-in-one is not very easy. You need some luck. Today I got lucky on that one as it was a very difficult hole and I saw it go in. It was good yesterday and good today for me as I made an eagle yesterday and a hole in one today. A very good memory for me. An eagle and hole-in-one in this tournament,” said Thongchai, who recorded his eighth career hole in one in tournament play.
After moving up 10 rungs on the leaderboard, he is planning to stay in the top-50. “The golf course is playing hard, I’m happy to have made the cut, a top 50 finish would be good,” he said.
Vijay Singh of Fiji, an Asian Tour honorary member, carded a 75 which placed him at 30th place while Noh Seung-yul, the talented 19-year-old Korean, shot a 76 to end the day in tied 42nd place in his Major debut.
Noh, second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, plans to go on a birdie attack. “I would like to make more birdies tomorrow and lower the number of bogeys.”
Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita was tied alongside Thongchai after a 74.
Johnson shot a 66 to open up a three shot lead over previous leader Graeme McDowell while Tiger Woods shot into third place with a 66 but trails by five with 18 holes remaining.