Thaworn hangs on to lead with big day ahead

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2005, 12:00am

'Now I have to prepare for a 27-hole session'

Thaworn Wiratchant was hanging on to a one-stroke lead in the US$1 million Enjoy Jakarta Standard Chartered Indonesia Open yesterday when the third round was suspended due to darkness.

The Thai was atop the leaderboard with a 15-under-par total through nine holes at Cengkareng Golf Club when officials called it a day at 6pm local time. Weather disruptions since Thursday will mean the leaders will endure a 27-hole marathon today.

Filipino veteran Frankie Minoza brilliantly moved to within one stroke of the lead, thanks to a hot putting display which saw him negotiate 14 holes in eight under. Tied second with Minoza, a former two-time winner of the Indonesia Open, are Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, who fired six birdies in 11 holes, Singapore's Mardan Mamat, who was four under through nine, and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, one under for his outward nine.

Scotsman Colin Montgomerie was six under for the tournament through 14 holes. He needs to pull off a miraculous win today to qualify for next month's US Masters.

Thaworn was lucky to still be leading. A wayward drive on the ninth found thick bushes and he was about to declare it a lost ball before the gallery found it, much to his delight. 'I was lucky. I think there was 30 seconds left on the clock to look for the ball and I'd given up,' said Thaworn.

'The weather delays are not good at all. I got to the club at 10am but sat around waiting for nearly six hours before I could tee off the third round. Now I'll have to prepare myself for a 27-hole session tomorrow, but it's good to still be leading.'

Minoza, playing on the Asian Tour on a board exemption this season after losing his card in Japan, enjoyed a magical run. After a birdie on two, he birdied four in a row from the fifth and eagled the par-five ninth by chipping in from 30 yards. He birdied the 10th and 11th before dropping a bogey on 13 by missing the green. When play was halted, Minoza was on the 15th green and facing a putt of 15 feet for birdie.

If he can pull off three more birdies in four holes, the 45-year-old, a six-time winner in Japan, will be the first to shoot a 59 on both the Asian Tour and European Tour, although the preferred lie ruling today would not make it an official record.

'[Indonesia] seems to like me,' said Minoza, winner of the Indonesia Open in 1986 and 1990. 'My putter was good. One more day to go and anything can happen. The delays are making all of us very tired though. I was up before 5am today to complete six holes of round two. Then there the long delays but I just kept busy by practising my short game when possible.'

Thongchai moved to striking range of his second title of the year as he peppered the pins to set up easy birdies. 'I'm in a good position and I feel good,' said the current Asian Tour number one.

Mamat, who will make his debut for Asia in the Visa Dynasty Cup against Japan next month, hit four birdies on the front nine. The reigning Indian Open champion said: 'I played it one shot at a time. I've been swinging it good and made some putts out there. I am not bothered by the delays as I was expecting it.

'I have no expectations for tomorrow. It will be important for me to go out and enjoy myself and see what happens. The most important thing is to stick to my shot routine. You can't control the weather but I'm definitely pleased with my position,' he said.

Aussie duo Andrew Buckle and Adam Fraser are on 12 under, three off the lead alongside Japan's Eiji Mizoguchi.

Earlier, the resumption of the weather-disrupted second round started only at 11am local time following a 31/2 hour delay in the morning.