Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng maintained his tight grip on the Chiangmai Golf Classic with a six-under-par 66 in the penultimate round yesterday to open up a five-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard.
The 47-year-old, who has led on all three days at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai, mixed six birdies and an eagle with two bogeys for a 54-hole total of 18-under-par 198.
Prayad’s countryman Thongchai Jaidee and Australia’s Matthew Stieger, who continued his bogey-free streak, were at 13-under 203 in the US$750,000 event in Thailand.
Yang Yong-eun, the first Asian man to win a major, was among six players a shot further behind, while four-time major winner Ernie Els of South Africa carded a six-under-par 66 to move up to tied 15th place.
The smooth-swinging Prayad, whose round was highlighted by a chip-in eagle on the seventh hole, briefly lost his touch with two consecutive bogeys on the 15th and 16th hole, but regained his composure with a birdie on the 17th.
“I have a five-shot lead now and I will play steadily and not be aggressive,” said Prayad, who is chasing his seventh title on the Asian Tour.
“I think the pressure is on those chasing me. They need to have a good front nine or else they won’t be able to catch up with me,” he said. “I made mistakes, but it doesn’t matter. I was careless on 16, but I still think I have a very strong advantage.”
Taiwan’s Hung Chien-yao and Tsai Chi-huang finished the day in a group of six players tied for 59th on 214.
Compatriot Lu Wen-teh was a shot further back in joint-65th place, while another Taiwanese, Lin Wen-hong, was tied for 70th.
Additional reporting by staff writer