Namchok stays in control in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, January 8: Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul stood on the brink of his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory after posting a third round even-par 71 at the US$100,000 Warisan Harta Sabah Masters on Friday.

The Thai powerhouse, who is chasing for a first victory in over two years, dug deep into his reserves to lead by two shots over countryman Nirun Sae-ueng with a three-day total of seven-under-par 206 at the Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club.

Reigning ADT Order of Merit champion Casey O’Toole of the United States signed for a 70 to stay five off the lead in third place with local hope Kemarol Baharin and Thailand’s Piya Swangarunporn, who returned with matching 71s.

Armed with a three-shot cushion at the start of the round, Namchok fired two birdies in three holes to push himself clear of the chasing pack. But a lapse of concentration saw him pull his drive into the water hazard on the fifth, resulting in a costly double bogey six.

He regained a birdie on the eighth and remained in control until he dropped another shot after finding the greenside bunker on the par-three 17th.

“Not the best of rounds but in this challenging conditions, I will take it. I felt very confident and I got off to a great start. But I made a costly mistake on the fifth, which was the only low point of the round.

“I took a more conservative approach after that to steady my round. I gave myself an opportunity to birdie the last but I read the line wrongly,” said the 28-year-old Namchok.

“Like I said on the first day, I’m putting zero pressure on myself. I feel comfortable in the lead and enjoy being in this position. Tomorrow the goal is to avoid big errors and just make my chances count,” added Namchok.

Nirun, 20, who claimed his professional breakthrough ADT win in Sabah last year, mixed two birdies with a bogey to stay in contention.

“I hit some good irons shots today but the pins were a bit hard. I’m happy to be in contention again and hopefully, I can find some birdies tomorrow and put the pressure on Namchok,” he added

Ends.

Leading third round scores:

206 – Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA) 65-70-71

208 – Nirun Sae-ueng (THA) 68-70-70

211 – Casey O’Toole (USA) 70-71-70, Kemarol Baharin 71-69-71, Piya Swangarunporn (THA) 71-69-71

214 – Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 75-71-68, Antonio Lascuna Jr 71-74-69, Rufino Bayron (PHI) 74-70-70

215 – Nicholas Fung 72-72-71, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 71-73-71, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 71-72-72, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 70-70-75

216 – Jay Bayron (PHI) 71-73-72, Danny Chia 72-71-73, Mitchell Slorach (SIN) 70-72-74, Lam Yu Shuen 77-65-74

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.