Late stumble costs Aphibarnrat

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s five-shot lead at the Shenzhen Open got cut down to two on Saturday as he stumbled over the closing holes.

The Thai was sitting pretty through 16 holes of his second round and looking odds on to take a big lead into the final round.

But a double bogey at the par-5 17th was followed by another bogey at the par-4 last, as the 25-year-old dropped from 15 under down to 12.

He still managed to sign for a four-under-par 68, however, thanks to some superb play earlier in the day, and still stands a good chance of claiming what would be only his second European Tour victory.

Prior to his stumble, Aphibarnrat made nine birdies and two bogeys to leave his rivals trailing in his wake. At one stage, he led by as many as six strokes.

“I’ve been striking the ball so well in the first three rounds. It’s a good way to start.

“First, I made three straight birdies to jump up at the top. I was still hitting the ball great on the back. Then I made a big mistake on last two holes, not the way to finish.”

“I lost the focus on the short putt on 17,” he added. “That is the big turn, the big key for me after Peter made birdie, and we swung three shots on that. That’s a big move. But I made a mistake and I lost some concentration.”

As it stands, he’s two shots clear of overnight leader Peter Uihlein, who could only manage a 71, while Pablo Larrazabal lies a further shot back on nine under.

“I just made too many sloppy bogeys. Four bogeys, a bit rough, five birdies and missed a couple pretty easy ones,” said Uihlein.

Tied for fourth on eight under are Scott Hend, Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Ford and Emiliano Grillo.