Consistent Chia snatches third round lead at Clearwater

Batu Gajah, Perak; June 22: Danny Chia (pic) was a picture of consistency as he snatched the lead at the conclusion of round three of the RM150,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Clearwater Classic today.

Matching his first day score of 69, the 39-year-old totalled 10-under-par 206 to take a comfortable two-shot lead over Mohd Rashid Ismail heading into the final round at the Clearwater Sanctuary Golf Resort tomorrow.

Three strokes adrift of the leader was Shaifubari Muda, who dropped a rung to third after struggling to an one-over 73 in rainy conditions today while overnight leader Shaaban Hussin saw his four-shot lead at the start of the day evaporate after a bogey-ridden round of 78 to take a share of fourth place on six-under-par alongside Airil Rizman Zahari and Akhmal Tarmizee Mohd Nazari.

Order of Merit leader M. Sasidaran remained in the hunt for his first title of 2011 with an even-par 72 to stay five shots off the lead.

Chia showed signs of returning to his best after an injury-disrupted year and the PGM Impian Masters winner was ready to make a final assault to become the first two-time winner on the newly-formed Tour. “I been driving the ball really well all week and that’s pretty much helped me inch my way up,” said Chia, who was the only player other than Akhmal to stay in the blue all week.

“I could do with some improvements to my ironplay tomorrow, as this is a strong golf course which demands accuracy off the tees as well as on the fairways. There’s little room for error here, so hopely I can get the kinks out of my irons and if things work well, another big payday looms,” added Chia, who was the best-placed local at the Maybank Malaysian Open in April.

An under-the-weather Rashid was clearly struggling in the stubborn drizzle which hit Batu Gajah in the morning but somehow managed to pull out five birdies against two bogeys to remain in contention.

“I was very uncomfortable with my driving today as my body ached badly but I just gritted my teeth and maintained my composure. I played a more defensive game today to avoid the treacherous rough here but my putting really helped me pull through. I’m going to down some medicine and get some rest and hopefully, come out fresh tomorrow morning and end my title drought” shared the 38-year-old.

The winner tomorrow will take home a prize purse of RM26,250.

Leading third round scores
206 Danny Chia (69-68-69)
208 Md Rashid Ismail (66-73-69)
209 Shaifubari Muda (70-66-73)
210 Airil Rizman Zahari (74-70-66), Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari (67-72-71); Shaaban Hussin (66-66-78)
211 Redzuan Kamaruddin (70-72-69); M. Sasidaran (72-67-72)
212 Mohd Rizal Amin (72-71-69); Anis Helmi Hassan (70-73-69)