Siem Reap, Cambodia: Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya remained bullish ahead of his final round charge, declaring that he is ready to win his maiden Asian Tour title after taking a share of the third round lead with Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open on Saturday.
Kuboya produced another bogey-free round of three-under-par 69 while Kim posted a 67 to share the round’s honours on matching 15-under-par 201 total at the Phokeethra Country Club.
Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand returned with a 65 to take third place on 202 while compatriot Prayad Marksaeng together with defending champion Marcus Both of Australia and Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands are bunched in fourth place on 204.
Kuboya, who earned his Tour card by graduating from the Asian Tour Qualifying school in tied-18th place in January this year, has been at the top of his game since the opening round where he has held the lead.
Although the 38-year-old Japanese was not able to take the outright lead, he is optimistic of his chances on the final day at the penultimate US$300,000 full field Asian Tour event before the season finale Black Mountain Masters in Hua Hin next week.
“I’m ready,” said the Japanese. “69 is a good score for me. Even though it’s higher than my scores in the previous two rounds, I’m confident that I can do well tomorrow as I’m playing well,” said Kuboya who posted scores of 65 and 67 in his opening two rounds.
Kim kept up the pressure on the Japanese when he signed his card with five birdies on the fifth, sixth, 13th, 14th and 16thholes.
“I’ve no complaints about how I’ve played today. Everything worked out well and I want to challenge for the title tomorrow,” said the Korean.
Meanwhile Thongchai remained on course to win his 13th Asian Tour title after a flawless 65 which he quickly attributed to his good putting.
“I think the key for me all week is my putting. I played very steady all week. The course is not very difficult. If you have a good game plan, you can be aggressive and attack the pins as the greens are very soft,” said Thongchai.
The decorated Thai star made birdies on the second, sixth and seven holes in his opening front-nine to reach the halfway mark in 33. He continued his birdie blitz with another on the par-four 12th before storming home with consecutive birdies in his last three holes.
“It has been a good week and I’ve been playing very solid. I hope to repeat my win here again,” said Thongchai who won the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open in 2008.
Prayad, a six-time Asian Tour winner, showed his mettle when he posted the day’s lowest score of 64. The 44-year-old, who started his round in tied-23d place, began his charge by posting four birdies on the second, fourth, seventh and eighth holes.
He added more birdies on the par-four 10th and 17th hole but the highlight of his round would come from the par-three 16th where he recorded the tournament’s first hole-in-one from 149 yards with a pitching wedge.
“It’s always a special feeling when you get a hole-in-one in any tournament. Everything just went right for me today and I’ve no complaints. Let’s see how it goes on the final day tomorrow,” said Prayad.
India’s Anirban Lahiri, who is currently lying on the bubble in 61st place on the Order of Merit which is the cut-off mark for players to earn their full playing privileges for 2011, is relieved that his good play today has given him a lifeline towards securing his Tour card for next season and also a chance to win his first Asian Tour title.
“I’m really feeling more relieved rather than happy because it has been some time coming. I needed a good finish this week but with the position I’m in now, I’m looking at contending and getting into the mix on the back-nine tomorrow,” said the 23-year-old.
Starting the day in tied-23rd place, Lahiri birdied the second, fifth and sixth holes in his outward-nine to reach the turn in 33.
The Indian then commenced his homeward convincingly with three successive birdies starting from the par-four 10th. He added his seventh birdie of the day on the par-five 17th to complete his round in 65.
“I struggled the first two days as I couldn’t hole anything but when I went out there today, I just holed everything. It was fantastic to have a good putting day today. I’ve been looking for this kind of form for some time and it’s starting to come together,” said Lahiri.
Leading third round scores
201 - Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 65-67-69, Kim Hyung-sung (KOR) 69-65-67
202 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 70-67-65
204 - Marcus Both (AUS) 67-69-68, Guido Van Der Valk (NED) 69-67-68, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 71-69-64
205 - Martin Rominger (SUI) 70-68-67, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 73-67-65
206 - Adam Groom (AUS) 68-66-72
207 - Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 69-68-70, Lucas Lee (BRA) 70-67-70
208 - Rory Hie (INA) 69-67-72, Shaaban Hussin (MAS) 70-68-70
209 - Atiwit Janewattananond (THA) 66-69-74, Iain Steel (MAS) 72-66-71, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 69-70-70, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 69-71-69, Artemio Murakami (PHI) 73-68-68
210 - Panuwat Muenlek (THA) 68-67-75, Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 68-69-73, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 70-69-71, Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 71-68-71, Mark Foster (ENG) 73-68-69, Zaw Moe (MYN) 73-69-68
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com