Taipei: A repeat bout of cramps impaired Khor Kheng Hwai’s title hopes at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship as he struggled to a third round of two-over-par 74 in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event today.
Despite demonstrating great sporting resilience to complete his round, the 26-year-old Malaysian found himself four strokes adrift of joint halfway leader Chan Shih-chang, who held on to his lead with a battling two-under-par 70 at the Linkou Golf & Country Club for a 54-hole total of seven-under-par 209 and a two-shot advantage over compatriot Lu Wen-teh (71).
Mars Pucay of the Philippines added a 71 to his previous rounds of 70 and 71 to take third place while Khor played through the pain barrier to post a 74 and secured fourth place at the Linkou International Golf Club.
Khor opened promisingly with two birdies on the first and second hole but squandered his lead with three successive bogeys starting from the seventh hole. He limped through the turn but displayed character by answering with birdies on the 10th and 13th holes. Three bogeys on holes 11, 14 and 16 in his inward-nine saw him with a mountain to climb with 18 holes remaining.
“I’m really proud of myself. It’s not so much about my game today but it’s more about the way I conducted myself. I told myself never to give up and I’m glad that I managed to finish all 18 holes today,” said Khor.
“I could barely walk after hitting my first tee shot. I just sat down right away on the tee box and it was really painful,” said Khor. “I managed to make several good recovery shots today and I think that has also kept me going. I just want to maintain my focus for tomorrow and the rest will take care of itself,” he added.
Chan reached the turn in 35 after an opening birdie on the par-five first. The local continued to birdie the 10th hole before dropping a shot on the par-three 11th. Despite the strong winds blowing many players off course, Chan managed to recover with another birdie on the 13th hole before making pars on his remaining five holes to reach home in 70.
“It was hard to control the movement of the ball with the strong winds. They were going all over the place today but I’m happy that I managed to hold on to my lead going into the final round tomorrow,” said Chan.
A five-time Asian Tour winner, Lu also conceded that the windy conditions made play very difficult and he had to make adjustments to his playing strategy. “It was not easy today especially with these conditions,” said the 48-year-old veteran who began his outward nine with two bogeys and a birdie.
Lu managed to cope better when he embarked on a bogey-free homerun with birdies on the 12 and 16 holes. “I got used to the playing conditions at the back-nine and made adjustments to my shots which certainly helped,” said Lu.
Leading third round scores
209 – Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 72-67-70.
211 – Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 70-70-71.
212 – Mars Pucay (PHI) 70-71-71.
213 – Khor Kheng Hwai (MAS) 71-68-74.
214 – Lin Wen-hong (TPE) 74-69-71, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 70-73-71.
215 – Adam GroomM (AUS) 71-73-71, Hsieh Tung-shu (TPE) 72-70-73, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 69-71-75.
216 – Chen Hao-sen (TPE) 69-72-75