Phiphatphong preserves two-shot lead

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, January 10: Local talent Phiphatphong Naewsuk maintained a two-shot lead over Chapchai Nirat after shooting a three-under-par 68 in the third round of the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on Saturday.

The 25-year-old sank three birdies in his closing six holes for a 12-under-par 201 total to edge closer to a first career victory at the three million Baht (approximately US$91,000) event, which is sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT).

Chapchai, a four-time Asian Tour winner, stayed within striking distance of his countryman when he posted a 68 at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club. Namchok Tantipokhakul, Baek Seuk-hyun of Korea and Chawalit Plaphol were a further shot back in tied third position on 204.

Phiphatphong, a double gold medalist at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games, struggled with a cold putter early in the round where he missed close range birdie chances which resulted in 12 consecutive pars.

“My putting was better on the back nine. I practiced my putting in the morning because I didn’t feel comfortable with it. I left many good birdie chances short of the hole,” said a disappointed Phiphatphong, who was bogey free.

Without a win since turning professional in 2010, Phiphatphong admits that he must keep a cool head in the heat of battle to give himself a chance of winning the title.

“I was a bit nervous and it will be the same tomorrow. It will all come down to how I control my emotions. I can’t worry about the top players behind me, I just need to concentrate on my game,” said the Thai.

Chapchai, the world 72-hole record holder, eagled the 14th hole to soar into contention but slipped back with a bogey on the penultimate hole.

“I’m not happy with my irons shots. The course is wide open and I feel comfortable here. The key is to get your ball on the green and as close as you can to the hole. I struggled to do that today,” said Chapchai.

Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in 2014. The ADT has announced a provisional 2015 schedule of a minimum 17 tournaments with several more to be announced in due course.

For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com

Leading third round scores:

201 – Phiphatphong NAEWSUK (THA) 68-65-68

203 – Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 65-70-68

204 – Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 67-71-66, BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 68-68-68, Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 71-64-69

205 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 74-61-70

207 – Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-71-67, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 71-68-68, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 67-72-68

208 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 71-67-70, Suppakorn UTHAIPAT (THA) 71-67-70

209 – Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA) 72-73-64, Apisit NIMNUAL (THA) 71-70-68, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-71-69, Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 70-70-69, Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 67-70-72, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 65-71-73

210 – Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 70-72-68, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 73-69-68, Pinyo PIROMRUEN (THA) 70-69-71, Varan ISRABHAKDI (THA) 67-72-71

About the Asian Development Tour

The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.