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RAI FACES MOORE CHALENGE AT IMPIAN CLASSIC

Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia: India’s Himmat Rai stayed firmly in the hunt for a first Asian Development Tour victory at the PGM-ADT-CCM Impian Classic on Saturday but will have in-form American rookie Jonathan Moore for company in the final round.

Rai, who has held the lead since the opening day, shot a third round of five-under-par 67 at the Impian Golf and Country Club for a 17-under-par 199 total in the RM200,000 (approximately US$67,000) tournament.

Moore, a former US Walker Cup team member and featuring in his first season in Asia, enjoyed five birdies and an eagle for a 65 which pushed him atop the leaderboard with Rai.

Co-overnight leader Artemio Murakami of the Philippines will start Sunday’s final round one shot back after signing for a 68 while American Will Yanagisawa finished the day in fourth place, four behind, after a 69.

Malaysian Ben Leong produced the day’s lowest round of 64 to move to sixth place on 206.

Rai, 23, birdied all the par fives to give himself a shot at winning a second professional victory after his lone win on the Indian circuit in 2009. “I enjoyed it, I played well. I hit the ball good and did the same things as the past two days. The flags were accessible but I’m playing to the middle of the greens and made a few putts,” said Rai, who totaled six birdies on the card.

“I’ve been putting well for a while now. It’s always been my strong point. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Winning is always a great thing and it’ll be good to get the job done.”

The 26-year-old Moore, who was the NCAA champion in America in 2006, birdied the opening three holes, including a chip-in on the second, before finishing strongly with another eagle on the penultimate hole where he rifled a seven iron approach to five feet of the flag.

“It was great, a lot of fun. I got off to a quick start and had a nice chip in which got things going. I didn’t expect it at all and then I eagled the 17th again. It was a good day,” said Moore, whose wife Claire is caddying for him.

Last week, the American finished tied third at the Clearwater Masters and he’ll be looking to improve by a couple of notches and emulate countryman Barry Henson’s victory.

“I can’t control what the guys are doing. It’ll be fun. You’ve got to keep making birdies as the guys are playing good. It’ll be a good shootout,” said Moore, who graduated from Oklahoma State University.

Murakami is using the Impian Classic as a warm-up for his defence of the Asian Tour’s ICTSI Philippine Open next week and stayed closely behind the leaders. He was disappointed with his back nine after his putter started missing the mark.

“I started strongly but on the back nine, my putter cooled off. I had a few bad breaks and missed four foot birdie chances on the 14th and 18th holes. I just have to play well tomorrow,” said the Filipino.

Leading third round scores

199: Himmat Rai (Ind) 64-68-67, Jonathan Moore (US) 68-66-65

200: Artemio Murakami (Phi) 65-67-68

203: Will Yanagisawa (US) 67-67-69

204: Chang Tse-peng (Tpe) 66-74-64

206: Ben Leong (Mas) 69-72-65

207: Akhmal Tarmizee (Mas) 73-68-66, T.J. Kim (Kor) 73-66-68

209: Lindsay Renolds (Can) 69-74-66, Hsu Chia-jen (Tpe) 69-71-69

210: Airil Rizman (Mas) 72-70-68, Danny Chia (Mas) 69-69-72

Photo - Asian Tour 

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