Hot Thai Rookie in Malaysia lead

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Kiradech Aphibarnrat, a Thailand rookie, has taken a two-shot lead at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

Asian Tour rookie Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand has opened up a two-shot lead after the third round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters to give himself a chance of a maiden title.

The former world junior amateur champion broke clear from the chasing pack following a two-under-par 69 at the Seri Selangor Golf Club to take his three day total to a nine-under-par 204 lead.

Malaysia’s S.Siva Chandhran also battled to a 69 to secure second place and keep alive his dream of winning on his home course.

Five golfers – Kodai Ichihara of Japan, Simon Griffiths of England, Malaysian Shaaban Hussin, joint overnight leader Noh Seung-yul of Korea and South African James Kamte – are tied third on 208, four off the pace.

The 20-year-old Kiradech, whose burly physique and aggressive style of play give him the look of an Asian version of American John Daly, made a big par save from six feet on the 18th green to give himself a cushion into tomorrow’s final round.

“I do not like to play it safe so tomorrow I am going all out and will try to do what I did in the first three rounds. The local player (Siva Chandhran) knows the course more than I do and he has an advantage. But my irons and putter are working well and I am aiming and feel confident of winning,” Kiradech said.

Tied for the overnight lead with Noh, Kiradech surged into a three-stroke lead at the turn, courtesy of an eagle and two birdies, but suffered a bogey on the par five 13th hole when an errant drive found the water hazard. He then got himself into trouble again at the greenside bunker on the challenging 18th hole, which he double bogeyed in the second round, but held his nerve this tyime to hole his par putt.

Siva Chandhran, a touring professional attached to Seri Selangor, is also chasing his first title on the Asian Tour and he will be banking on his home advantage to guide him to success.

“There is pressure but if I can pull off a win, it’ll be a win for everyone, especially the club. They’ve always wanted a local boy to win this tournament,” said Siva Chandhran, who posted four birdies against two bogeys.

Kamte, winner of the season-opening Asian Tour International in Bangkok, also rued a bad putting round, missing makeable chances from close range, including from four feet at the last hole.

“If you want to win golf tournaments, you have to make your putts. I missed two or three putts and then missed a four footer on the last. I am just putting badly. I’ve just got to start holing them if I want to win tomorrow,” said Kamte, who headed straight to the practice green after his round.

LEADING THIRD ROUND SCORES

204 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 65-70-69

206 – S. Siva Chandhran (MAS) 69-68-69

208 – Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 71-69-68, Simon Griffiths (ENG) 70-70-68, Shaaban Hussin (MAS) 67-69-72, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 67-68-73, James Kamte (RSA) 66-70-72

209 – Jbe Kruger (RSA) 67-73-69, Scott Hend (AUS) 69-71-69, Mark Purser (NZL) 69-71-69, Son Joon-eob (KOR) 73-66-70, Mitchell Brown (AUS) 68-69-72

210 – Bryan Saltus (USA) 73-69-68, Rick Kulacz (AUS) 68-71-71, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 69-70-71, Bae Sang-moon (KOR) 69-69-72, Guido Van Der Valk (NED) 73-65-72, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 71-67-72, Lu Chien-soon (TPE) 71-66-73

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