Japanese hope Masamichi Uehira was the surprise package on day three of the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open yesterday, firing a six-under-par 65 for a narrow one-shot lead.
It was Uehira’s best score of the week and took him to a total of 14-under-par 199, but nine players remain within four shots off the pace at the ￥150 million (US$1.9 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour. Philippine sensation Juvic Pagunsan is in second. The reigning Asian Tour No. 1, he was leading for most of the round, but dropped bogeys on 13 and 15 to settle for 67 at the Higashi Hirono Golf Club in Hyogo, Japan.
Japan’s Tomohiro Kondo, Koumei Oda and Masahiro Kawamura were a further shot back, while overnight leader Hiroyuki Fujita posted a 70 to lie in tied sixth place on 202. Wu Ashun (67) of China, who played on the Asian Tour in 2008 and 2009, and Darren Beck (70) of Australia both shot hole-in-ones on holes seven and 11 respectively and are four shots back.
Uehira, who has yet to win on the Japan Golf Tour, surprised even himself when he jumped into the lead courtesy of sharp shooting iron play and two closing birdies.
“I want to be able to play the game without any stress. I had many birdie chances from good distances. I wanted to stay close to the top, but didn’t expect to be leading,” Uehira said.
“Somehow, my swing felt really good at the practice range and I kind of brought the form with me into the round. It is going to be an exciting final round. Let’s hope it goes in my favor,” the 34-year-old added.
Taiwan’s Lee Chieh-po shot a 71 for two-over, Chan Yih-shin shot a 77 for three-over and Hung Chien-yao carded 76 for four-over.
Additional reporting by Staff writer