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Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand plays a shot during his surge into the joint lead in the third round of the International Series Singapore. Photo: AFP / Asian Tour

International Series Singapore: Phachara joins Green to lead into final day

  • Phachara Khongwatmai’s round of 69 puts him level with Gavin Green in the season’s third International Series event
  • Only a dropped shot at the 18th denies Chan Shih-chang a share of the lead as he cards a 66
Asian Tour

Gavin Green of Malaysia maintained his lead in the US$1.5 million International Series Singapore at Tanah Merah Country Club on Saturday, but was joined by Phachara Khongwatmai from Thailand.

Green, the Asian Tour No 1 in 2017 and the leader after the first two days following a pair of stunning seven-under-par 65s, returned 72 to stay at 14 under, while Phachara shot 69 in the third International Series event this season.

Chan Shih-chang of Taiwan and Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong were a shot behind following rounds of 66 and 68 respectively, while England’s Steve Lewton came in with a 69 to sit a stroke further back.

But Taichi Kho of Hong Kong was left 14 shots off the lead on par after carding a third-round 74.

Chan Shih-chang of Taiwan carded a 66 on Saturday at Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore. Photo: AFP / Asian Tour

“It was a grinding day – it was such a grind, I couldn’t get anything going,” said Green, whose birdie on the eighth was offset by a dropped shot on 13. It was in stark contrast to his 14 birdies and no bogeys on Thursday and Friday.

“Nevertheless, I just hung in there as hard as I could, making pars from everywhere. Sometimes you just got to do that.

“Golf is not a game [in which] you can be perfect all the time. My caddie kept saying, ‘Stay in it, stay patient, keep trying and hit good shots,’ and you know what, we made a lot of saves today – it was kind of a saving day. We are still in it.”

Both Green and Phachara are chasing their second wins on the Asian Tour, with Green having won the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in 2017, and the latter the 2021 Laguna Phuket Championship.

“Today everything wasn’t bad, only one thing was my putting,” Phachara said. “Because I hit it pretty well, same as in the first and second rounds, but missed a lot of putts. I hope tomorrow the putting is going to work.

“The greens were a little bit slower today I think – all my distance was gone. My reads were great, but only the distance wasn’t good.”

Chan looked set to finish the day sharing the lead, but dropped a shot on 18. He will be a threat on Sunday having won four times on the tour.

Nitithorn achieved the rare feat of making two eagles on par fours on the front nine, on the third and ninth.

“I know, it’s unbelievable,” said the Thai, winner of The DGC Open in India in March. “I didn’t expect that it’s going to be in the hole on the third – it’s a blind shot.”

He made the turn in a five-under-par 31 but could not maintain the momentum and toured the second nine in one over.

American Peter Uihlein, a former US amateur champion, fired a 67 and was three off the lead along with Jaco Ahlers from South Africa, who carded a 69.

Patrick Reed, the American who claimed the 2018 Masters, was unable to mount a challenge and shot a 72 to sit three under for the tournament.

In the battle to finish as the leading Singaporean, amateur Hiroshi Tai signed for an impressive 69 and was six under, two ahead of another local amateur James Leow, who returned a 71.