Da Silva magic earns lead

Adilson Da Silva produced a superb 5-under-65 to give him a share of the lead at the Singapore Classic.

Brazilian Adilson Da Silva has produced some golfing samba magic with a superb 5-under-65 to share the third round lead at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic.

The South African-based South American is tied for first with tenacious Indian Himmat Rai as the tournament heads into Sunday’s fourth and final round

The 39-year-old Da Silva, a nine-time winner in South Africa, his last victory coming as recently as last weekend, was in magnificent form at the Orchid Country Club, shooting seven birdies against two bogeys to lead with a 10-under-par 200 alongside an equally impressive Rai, who battled blustery conditions to shoot four birdies for an unblemished 66.

South African Jbe Kruger, runner-up here last year and the highest ranked player in the field, charged into contention at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event with a 65, highlighted by an inward 29 to lie two back alongside Finnish rookie Kalle Samooja, who carded a 68.

A 67 pushed young Korean Baek Seuk-hyun into fifth place on 203 while veteran Thai Thaworn Wiratchant struggled in the winds for an even par, third round 70 to lie a further shot back with South Africa’s Tjaart van der Walt and Englishman Miles Tunnicliff.

The final round tee times have been brought forward on Sunday morning, with the leaders starting at 9.20am due to an expected evening thunderstorm.

After Da Silva bogeyed the challenging 501-yard 18th hole where the players were struggling to reach the green, Rai, chasing a first Asian Tour victory, drained a 20-footer par save to ensure he stayed level with the experienced Brazilian.

“It was tremendous. As a professional golfer, you must know every shot counts out here. I was mentally prepared for that putt,” said the 24-year-old Rai, who fired birdies on the second, ninth, 11th and 17th holes.

His best finish on Tour was in 2009 at the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia where he also led into the last day and the young Indian hopes to learn from that experience.

“I’m confident I can control my routine. Experience is really important. I’ve got some experience on the Asian Tour playing with the lead. It will definitely help me and I will make a good effort to stick to my processes,” said Rai, who is currently 67th on the Order of Merit with one top-10.

In-form Da Silva produced some spectacular shots, including a monster birdie putt off the 14th green to give himself a chance of winning a title in his Asian Tour debut season.

“I’m feeling very confident and I feel my putting is working again. I’ve been hitting the ball reasonably well but my putting hasn’t been there. But the last couple of weeks I’m beginning to find that form again,” said the 39-year-old.

“The winds were so strong on the 18th and I was actually hoping for the officials to call off play. I couldn’t even make it to the front of the bunker in two. I’ve been in this position before and I’ll try to stay patient, focus on my shots and hopefully that will be good enough to win this tournament.”

Kruger, with three top-10s this year, has been knocking on the door for a first title in Asia and five birdies on his back nine put him in prime position. But he knows Da Silva will be dangerous on Sunday.

“I have been playing well the whole week but I can’t get it into the hole. If I have got the putter going, I could have been 18 or 19 under already. On the back nine, I hit a few close and a few went in. This puts me closer to the leader and gives me a chance,” said the South African.

“But it’s going to be hard task to try and catch Adilson as he putts well. He is not going to come back. He’s won more than me and he’s been on the tour for almost as many years as I’m old! It’s going to be hard to beat him.”

Samooja scrambled well with three birdies against a lone bogey to stay in the hunt and enjoyed a stroke of fortune when his drive on 17th stayed dry after narrowly avoiding the water hazard. “I was struggling pretty much today. I was hitting all over the place,” said the Finn.

Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 68-67-65
Himmat Rai (Ind) 68-66-66.
Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 67-70-65
Kalle Samooja (Fin) 68-66-68.
Baek Seuk-Hyun (Kor) 71-65-67.
Tjaart Van Der Walt (Rsa) 69-69-66
Miles Tunnicliff (Eng) 68-69-67
Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 66-68-70.
Quincy Quek (Sin) 71-68-66
Guido Van Der Valk (Ned) 71-67-67
Elmer Salvador (Phi) 68-67-70.