Unheralded Piya Swangarunporn of Thailand birdied his closing two holes for a shock one-stroke lead at the Black Mountain Masters yesterday, but hot on his heels are proven winners Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan, who enjoyed a career first with three eagles in a spectacular round of 67, and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
The 27-year-old Piya, chasing a maiden Asian Tour victory, battled to a four-under 68 in the third round at the Black Mountain Golf Club to head the field on 14-under 202.
“If I win, it will change my life. Everything will change. Since I turned pro [in 2002], I’ve been waiting for this chance,” Piya said.
Two top 10 finishes this year on the Asian Tour showed the growing maturity in his game, which relies heavily on his long driving ability. He won a long driving contest in Thailand in 2006 with a massive 320-yard effort.
“This is the first time I’m leading and I need to keep playing the same game plan,” Piya said. “It’s very exciting, but I’m not going to think about the players behind me. If I’m not too nervous, I will have a chance to win. I was a bit nervous today.”
Hiratsuka, 39, is chasing a third victory of the year on the Asian Tour and soared high with three eagles in his impressive round. He holed a monstrous 45-foot putt on the sixth, a 15-foot putt on the 13th and drained a 12-footer at the last hole after a massive three-wood approach shot from 256 yards out.
“It was a special day,” the Japanese said. “I enjoy playing in Thailand [he won the Queen’s Cup in Samui in June] and I like it here as well, but I will have to watch out for Thongchai as he is the perfect golfer. We’ll have to keep an eye on him.”
Thongchai carded a 68 to stay in the hunt in tied third place, three back, as he kept alive his hopes of winning for the second straight week.
Thongchai moved menacingly up the leaderboard with a five-birdie round, but lamented missed opportunities on the greens once again.
Overnight leader Lee Sung of South Korea stumbled to a 75 to join Thongchai on 205 in the season finale.
Lu Wen-teh was Taiwan’s best-placed contender after a 71 put him 11 shots behind the leader on three-under 213. Chan Yih-shin was a shot further back after a 70, while Lin Keng-chi’s 73 gave him a one-under total. Lin Wen-hong carded a disappointing 76 to leave him even-par for the tournament, while Lin Chie-hsiang (73) and Lu Wei-chih (75) were a shot further back.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in
Michael Schumacher’s son Mick said that the prospect of Lewis Hamilton equaling the Ferrari great’s all-time record of 91 wins has given him something to aim for when he gets to Formula One. Hamilton, who replaced Michael Schumacher at Mercedes in 2013, can take his 91st victory in today’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi — a race he has won four times previously. “One sentence my dad always used to say was: ‘Records are there to be broken.’ It’s everybody’s aim in this sport to do that,” Formula Two championship leader Mick Schumacher said on Friday. “I think Lewis had a very, very