Phachara Khongwatmai emerged from a packed leaderboard to take the third-round lead in the US$1.5 million International Series Thailand at Black Mountain Golf Club today.
The Thai star fired a nine-under-par 63 to lead on 20 under by three from countrymen Poosit Supupramai and Itthipat Buranayarat, American Sihwan Kim, India’s Karandeep Kochhar and Doyeob Mun from Korea.
Poosit matched the course record with a 62 while Itthipat and Kim fired 65s. Kochhar returned a 66 while Mun came in with a 68.
Overnight leader Ryo Hisatsune from Japan carded a 71 and is 15 under.
Phachara has only dropped one shot in three days and made nine birdies today, including six on the back nine, with three on the trot from the 16th.
“I have been playing well for a while, so I felt like a good round was coming,” said the 22 year old, who also shot 63 on day one.
“The course is possible to shoot low score, but you still have to play well.”
The rising star finally won his first Asian Tour event at the end of last year at the Laguna Phuket Championship, after years of coming close, including six runner-up finishes.
He also won twice on the Asian Development Tour in 2015, while it was back in 2013 he triumphed in the Singha Hua Hin Open as a 14 year old amateur.
He added: “Yes, Hua Hin has special meaning for me, as I turned professional after winning in 2013.”
Poosit matched Sihwan Kim’s first round course record thanks to an eagle, nine birdies and just one bogey.
Said the Thai golfer: “I just made the cut yesterday, which was a good day for me. Today I said to my family that I would concentrate on an aggressive game, as usual, and I did it well. I had a great game today with a good combination of driving, iron shots and putting and also slam dunked an eagle. I got some luck, everything was perfect.”
Earlier in the day Thailand’s Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat, who celebrated his 15th birthday yesterday by finishing on the six under halfway cut, stormed through the field with a 63 to finish on 15 under.
“Fifteen yesterday and 15 under today. I think I will need at least 63 tomorrow to win,” said Ratchanon.
“Tomorrow I am going to try and strike the ball like I did today and give myself a lot of opportunities again. Every single putt I have, I will have to run through every scenario and every possible calculation I need to make before hitting the putt. If I want to win, I have to do that for every single putt. I did not manage to do that on eight of the holes today. This is the first time I’ve played two ball in my life. Feels a bit lonely.”
The youngster said it was his lowest 18-hole score.
He added: “My previous lowest was an eight under on the All Thailand Golf Tour.”