Asian Tour: Khan and Atiruj hold slender lead in Indonesia, as Hong Kong’s Kho among 12 with shot at title
- Rashid Khan and Atiruj Winaicharoenchai open up gap at the top after taking advantage of opponents mistakes
- Kho also in the hunt with 12 players within two shots of top spot on congested leader board
To say the top of the leader board at the Mandiri Indonesia Open is congested going into Sunday’s final round would be something of an understatement.
Twelve golfers are within three shots of the lead at Pondok Indah Golf Course, and it would be difficult to pick who exactly is going to come out on top.
India’s Rashid Khan and Atiruj Winaicharoenchai from Thailand will certainly fancy their chances, after taking advantage of late lapses over the closing holes by their opponents to move into the lead with just 18 holes to go.
Khan posted a sublime bogey free eight-under 64 on Saturday, while Atiruj, who carded a magnificent 63 in the second round, fired a 68 leaving the pair tied at 14-under.
Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar, who is bidding to win this event for a record third time after successes in 2013 and 2016, is in a four-way tie for third one shot back alongside Itthipat Buranatanyarat, Chapchai Nirat and Chang Wei-lun.
While Khan birdied the par-5 18th and Atiruj carded a par, Gaganjeet and Chang drop shots, Chapchai finished double bogey and bogey while Itthipat staggered home with bogeys on 13, 15 and 17.
Hong Kong’s rising star Taichi Kho, who was joint leader on the opening day, is among a group on 12-under after he second consecutive round of 70.
“Yeah, it was a pretty good round, I was minus five after nine,” Khan said. “I had that somewhere in my mind that I can close the gap [on the leaders] but I had no idea that it was going to be this situation in the end.
“I made really good birdies on 11 and 12 so I was seven under after 12, and knew we had like two or three good holes coming up. And I knew the stretch wouldn’t be easy. And so the pars I saved on 14, 15 and 17, you know that gave me a momentum.”
Atiruj recorded his maiden wins on The All Thailand Golf Tour this year and his form has certainly not deserted him.
“I mean today’s putting good, but it was quite windy today so I didn’t hit that that close so less birdies than yesterday,” he said. “I have to find more fairways I guess, in today’s wind I didn’t hit the fairways enough.”
The Thai made brilliant eagle on the par five 14th.
“I hit driver off the tee and a hybrid for my second shot, that left me an eagle putt from like eight feet and I just made it,” he said.
Thailand Poom Saksansin carded a 63, the joint lowest score of the week, and Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva returned a 66, and are joint seventh with Kho.