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Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat of Singapore stayed on track for a fifth World Cup appearance by shooting a five-under-par 66 in the third round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Asian Qualifying on Friday.

They fired six birdies against one bogey in the fourball (better ball) format to open up a one shot lead over India’s rising stars Gaganjeet Bhullar and Anirban Lahiri, who shot two eagles in a flawless round of 64 for a 200 total at the Seri Selangor Golf Club.

It will be a close race for the third and final ticket to the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China as four countries are in the running of securing the last spot in the event staged from November 24 to 27.

The home team powered by Shaaban Hussin and Iain Steel bounced back with a battling 63 for a 204 total to share third position with New Zealand’s Michael Hendry and Gareth Paddison, who returned with a 64.

The veteran team of Mars Pucay and Antonio Lascuna of the Philippines posted a solid 63 to surge up to tied fifth on the leader board with Koreans Kim Hyung-sung and Park Sung-joon (67) on 206. 

Lam and Mardan are five shots clear from the third placed teams with a 14-under-par 199 total but are not taking their lead for granted. 

“We still have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of good teams behind us. It is not in the bag yet but obviously we are in a good position and need to go out tomorrow and get the job done,” said Lam, who qualified for the World Cup with Mardan at Seri Selangor in 2006 and 2009. 

Mardan believes their strong partnership and understanding will guide them to another appearance in the World Cup.

“We need to get the job done and with one more day to go, we have to stay focused and rely on our good team combination which have worked well in the past,” said Mardan, a two-time Asian Tour winner.

Lahiri, aiming to qualify for his first World Cup with Bhullar, fired the team’s first eagle of the day on the par five fifth hole before Bhullar sank a second eagle on the 13th hole from six feet.

“We played solid. It was a good improvement for us in the last two days. We didn’t drop a shot which was good. I played very well on the front nine and Gaganjeet was unstoppable on the back. Overall, it was a great team effort,” said Lahiri winner of the Panasonic Open (India) on the Asian Tour earlier this year. 

Malaysia’s Shaaban put his home course knowledge to good use with six birdies while his partner  Steel picked up two birdies in a blemish free round to give themselves a fighting chance of guiding Malaysia to their first World Cup appearance in 10 years.

“We managed to crawl to our current position and we are happy. The middle part of the round was a bit boring but we managed to hit it closer in the second half,” said Steel, an Asian Tour regular. 

“We played here enough times on the Asian Tour and everyone knows the course from tee to green but Shaaban is definitely head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to reading the putts and being on the greens,” added Steel, who is eyeing to qualify for his first World Cup with Shaaban.

The story of the day belonged to Filipinos Pucay and Lascuna, who were one-over going into the penultimate round before recovering with a sizzling 63 highlighted by Lascuna’s chip-in on the fourth hole from 20 yards and 20 foot eagle putt on 13.

“My partner really got us going with his chip in and eagle. I made four birdies in the front nine so we both pulled our own weight. This is definitely a good bounce back for us. The foursomes will be interesting because it doesn’t matter how many strokes you are back,” said Pucay, who previously played in the 2008 and 2009 World Cups with Angelo Que.

Third round scores

199 – Singapore (LAM Chih-Bing, Mardan MAMAT) 63-70-66                             

200 – India (Gaganjeet BHULLAR, Anirban LAHIRI) 67-69-64                                       

204 – Malaysia (Iain STEEL, Shaaban HUSSIN) 64-77-63, New Zealand (Michael HENDRY, Gareth PADDISON) 65-75-64                                 

206 – Philippines (Mars PUCAY, Antonio LASCUNA) 70-73-63, Korea (KIM Hyung-Sung, PARK Sung-Joon) 70-69-67                                                                     

210 - Pakistan (Muhammad MUNIR, Mohd Shabbir IQBAL) 68-76-66, Sri Lanka (Anura ROHANA, Mithun PERERA        ) 70-70-70

215 – Myanmar (Zaw MOE, NAY Bala Win Myint)            66-84-65                                            

216 – Indonesia (Burhan BORA, HARDJITO) 73-75-68, Chinese Taipei (TSENG Hua-yen, LIN Kuan Po) 68-79-69                                                                   

220 – Hong Kong (WONG Woon-Man, William FUNG) 73-78-69                                    

222 – Vietnam (Michael TRAN, NGUYEN Thai Duong) 76-78-68, Ghana (Stephen Kwame KLAH, Godwin SAI 77-76-69                                                                     

226 – Senegal (Gueye DIADJI, Niang SAMBA) 74-83-69                                                 

236 – Brunei (Pengiran Hassanal, Moksin JINAIDI) 78-83-75                        

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