Veteran Lu bags six birdies to catch Singh
'I've just tried to remain patient'
Taiwan veteran Lu Wen-teh rode on his new-found confidence to fire a six-under-par 66 yesterday for the joint third-round lead with India's Digvijay Singh at the Crowne Plaza Open.
The 42-year-old Lu produced a fine ball-striking display, which yielded six birdies against no bogeys at Grand Epoch City Golf Club to tie co-overnight leader Singh on five-under-par 211 in the US$200,000 Asian Tour event.
Third at last week's Taiwan Masters and with six other top-15 finishes in the bag this season, Lu, currently 14th on the Order of Merit, will be aiming to snap a seven-year winless run against a co-leader who is searching for a career breakthrough.
The 33-year Singh dropped a bogey at the last hole to fall into a tie with Lu after returning a 71. The Indian lamented having a cold putter as two of his three bogeys were results of three putts while he missed a hatful of other birdie chances.
The final round promises to be an exciting shootout as Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng, Australian Marcus Both and talented Indian rookie Shiv Kapur are one stroke adrift in third place on 212 while Taiwan's Chen Yuan-chi, Australia's Alistair Presnell and Thailand's promising Prom Meesawat are two strokes off the lead.
The experienced Lu, however, is determined to end his drought after a superb iron display which set up easy birdie conversions at the fifth, sixth, ninth, 10th, 12th and 17th holes.
'I only missed one green and all my putts were from close range. The longest putts were on five and six from eight feet,' said Lu.
'I've been playing reasonably well this season and I've just tried to remain patient on the course and let things happen. I like this course here this week, so that makes it easier for me.'
Singh was poised for the sole lead but carded a third bogey of the day on the 18th with a wayward drive.
'I deserved that bogey,' said Singh, who has won eight times on the Indian domestic circuit.
'My putting deserted me as I missed so many short putts out there, including a two-footer for birdie on number 12, and a couple more five-footers. I think I wanted to hole out too badly that it affected me, so tomorrow, I'm just going to think about making a good stroke.'
Prayad 39, will also be looking to win on the Asian Tour again after his last victory in 2000. The smooth-swinging Thai carded an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys for a 70 to move into contention. The last time the stocky Thai came close to winning was last season at the Masters of Asia in Kuala Lumpur. Kapur, the 2002 Asian Games gold medallist, carded a 68 to cruise into contention with 2003 Sanya Open winner Both, who returned a 71.
Zheng Wengen and Liang Wenchong finished the third round as the best-placed Chinese golfers in tied 14th place on 216 alongside current Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who stumbled to a 75. Zheng carded a 70 while Liang was one stroke higher.