Spain’s Sergio Garcia opened up a four-stroke lead after firing a superb seven-under 65 in the third round of the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club yesterday.
The Spanish star surged to 18-under for the tournament, with eight birdies and just one bogey.
Matching Garcia’s 65 was Sweden’s pre-tournament favorite Henrik Stenson, who moved into joint second place along with India’s Anirbarn Lahiri.
Joint overnight leader Justin Rose slipped back to fourth spot after a disappointing 70, leaving the Englishman five shots behind the leader.
Two shots further back, alone in fifth place, was France’s Alexander Levy, while the best score of the day came from Korea’s Kim Gi-whan, whose eight-under 64 catapulted him into joint sixth spot.
“It was great to shoot 65 for the second successive day,” a relaxed Garcia said. “I felt very comfortable and hit some nice shots. I was particularly pleased with my putting, especially sinking birdies on the difficult last two holes.”
Despite his healthy lead he knows there is still plenty of work to do and will not be playing cautiously in today’s final round.
“There are five or six guys out there who can shoot a good number,” he said. “I’ll be as aggressive as possible. I won’t be playing defensively.”
Stenson looked particularly pleased after his bogey-free seven-under round.
“That’s the best I’ve played all week,” he said. “In addition to the birdies, I made some good saves which kept the momentum going, which was important.”
Lahiri was pleased to be in contention after shooting an excellent 67.
“I’m glad I’m within touching distance of Sergio, but I won’t expect too much. I’ll just do my best,” he said.
Rose admitted he had experienced a “frustrating day,” missing a number of birdie putts.
“I played quite well and had the opportunity to put a good round together, but didn’t do it,” he said.
The US Open winner said he would do his best to catch Ryder Cup teammate Garcia today.
Leading the local challenge is Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat, in joint sixth place after shooting 67.
However, it was his compatriot Chinnarat Phadungsil who prompted the biggest cheers from the gallery with a hole-in-one at the fifth — the second ace of the tournament.
The ace climaxed a blistering start for the young Thai, who found himself on five-under after the first five holes on his way to an impressive 65 for joint ninth place.