South African Ernie Els continued his recovery from jet-lag to lurk just one shot off the lead behind little-known Japanese player Daisuke Kataoka after the third round of the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta yesterday.
The reigning British Open champion offset a single bogey with five birdies for a four-under par 68 and a three-day total of 10-under to share the second spot with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
“My body felt good and my concentration was pretty good as well. I just try to hang in there. I hit a lot of good shots, missed a lot of putts and in the end I grinded out a 68,” Els told reporters after sinking a birdie on the last hole.
“I was pretty consistent the whole day. I played well and it was one of those days where I tried to stay in the tournament,” he said.
“I was trying to get to 12-under, but that didn’t quite happen. I’m one shot behind and I just wanted to stay in the mix which I managed to do,” Els said.
Kataoka recorded eight birdies and two bogeys in a six-under-par 66 and was hopeful of bagging his first title on the Asian Tour.
“I’m striking the ball very good. My putting was normal on the first two days, but it was great today,” the 24-year-old said.
“I never changed anything, somehow I just felt more confident with my putting. I’ve mastered the speed of the greens and that made my round slightly easier,” he said.
“This is the first time I’m leading a tournament. When I looked at the scores, I saw many good players chasing me so I hope to have some luck to win. It won’t be easy,” Kataoka said.
Taiwan’s Hung Chien-yao was fifth after a round of 70 yesterday, while Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee, who led overnight, slipped back into a tie for sixth following a disappointing round of 75 that included five bogeys.
Chan Yih-shin of Taiwan was tied for 59th at four-over, with compatriot Lin Wen-tang a further two shots back in 68th.
Additional reporting by staff writer
Australian Brett Rumford tamed the strong winds at Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club on his way to a third-round 69 that gave him a one-stroke lead at the China Open yesterday, as he remained on course for back-to-back European Tour wins.
Rumford, winner of last week’s Ballantine’s Championship, recorded three consecutive birdies from the sixth and parred the other 15 holes to move ahead of overnight leader Mikko Ilonen of Finland at the US$3.2 million co-sanctioned event.
“That was a tough day,” Rumford told reporters after finishing the day on 12-under par for the tournament. “I really started to feel things on the back nine.”
“I did really well to hang in nicely with some tired golf swings. I mentally stayed with it — physically not so much, but mentally I hung in there,” he said. “The wind was really starting to dry things out, so you’ve got to be very precise.”
Ilonen, who had a three-stroke cushion heading into the weekend, started and ended his third round with bogeys for a one-over-par 73.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal shot a 69 to lie two shots behind the leader in third, while Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who won his maiden European Tour title at the Malaysian Open in March, sits alone in fourth place, a further stroke adrift.