DUTCHMAN VAN DER VALK PULLS SEVEN SHOTS CLEAR IN MALAYSIA
Kuala Lumpur: Guido Van Der Valk of Holland romped seven shots clear of the field after an impressive five-under-par 67 in the third round of the PGM-MIDF-KLGCC Classic on Saturday.
Bidding a first victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), the 31-year-old reeled in six birdies against a lone bogey at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to put some daylight between him and second-placed Gerald Rosales of the Philippines, who returned a 71.
Japan’s Yosuke Tsukada fired a 70 to move to third position, nine back, while Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung returned a disappointing 74 for tied fourth place with American Jonathan Moore, the current ADT Order of Merit leader.
With the RM200,000 (approximately US$66,000) tournament being the final leg of the 2011 ADT season, the fight for promotion onto the elite Asian Tour intensified. Chinese Taipei’s Kao Shang-hung, currently third on the Merit list, stumbled to equal 20th place following a disappointing 79.
It left the door wide open for fourth-ranked Takafumi Kawane of Japan, who needs to finish at least in fourth position on his own on Sunday to overhaul Kao. The 29-year-old Kawane kept alive his hopes with a 77 for joint 11th position.
The day belonged to overnight leader Van Der Valk, who had finished tied second at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on the Asian Tour earlier this month. He credited a new putting grip for his new-found confidence on the greens.
“I changed to the cross-handed grip and I’m more confident to make a stroke. I’ve always struck it well but when you have days with eight three putts, it’s not nice. Golf is more enjoyable now,” said the Manila-based Van Der Valk, who leads the tournament on eight-under-par 208.
He was four under through 10 holes with birdies on two, three, five and 10 before dropping his lone bogey at the par three 11th. But the Dutchman finished strongly with birdies on 17 and 18 to leave his rivals trailing in his wake.
“I’m not doing much wrong as I’ve been hitting a lot of fairways and greens. I’ll play smart golf tomorrow and take my chances when they come. I can’t be playing conservative golf,” he said.
Rosales was the opposite of playing partner Van Der Valk as the Filipino missed numerous close-range putts. “It was disappointing as I kept missing short putts. Guido is playing really well. I need the putts to drop to have any chance,” said Rosales.
Kao lamented fatigue for his poor day but insisted there was no pressure despite a priceless Asian Tour card at stake on Sunday. “I’m tired as I’ve been playing in a few events,” said Kao, who won the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship on the ADT last month.
“I know what Kawane needs to do and I know what I need to do. I’ll go out to do my best tomorrow.”
Kawane, playing in his second year in Asia, reckons he needs a 65 or 66 in the final round to break the top-three of the final Order of Merit. But with the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club playing tough, the Japanese knows he faces an uphill battle.
“Everything wasn’t good,” said Kawane. “It’s a tough golf course for me and the fast greens are difficult to read. I know I must finish in the top-four to have a chance. I must aim for a really low round.”
Initiated by the Asian Tour, which is the official sanctioning body for professional tournament golf in Asia, the ADT was launched last year with the objective of creating a viable platform for young and aspiring professionals to hone their game and skills before joining the established Asian Tour.
The PGM-MIDF-KLGCC Classic is the eighth and final leg this year which is three tournaments more than last year’s inaugural season.
Leading third round scores
208: Guido VAN DER VALK (HOL) 71-70-67
215: Gerald ROSALES (PHI) 74-70-71
217: Yosuke TSUKADA (JPN) 72-75-70
219: Jonathan MOORE (USA) 74-72-73, Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 71-74-74
222: S. Siva Chandhran (MAS) 77-73-72, R. Nachimuthu (MAS) 75-73-74
223: Wittawat SAE-UNG (THA) 75-76-72, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 77-70-76
224: Rashid ISMAIL (MAS) 73-78-73
225: John SHIN (CAN) 77-77-71, M. Sasidaran (MAS) 76-76-73, Michael MOORE (AUS) 77-74-74, Takafumi KAWANE (JPN) 74-74-77, Akhmal TARMIZEE (MAS) 73-74-78, Marlon DIZON (PHI) 73-73-79
226: Zurie HARUN (MAS) 74-79-73, T.J. KIM (KOR) 76-76-74
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour www.GolfGreedy.com
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