Kota Kinabalu: A two-horse race is brewing at Sabah Golf & Country Club as the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sabah Classic nears its climax with little separating reigning PGM Order of Merit winner R. Nachimuthu and defending champion Nicholas Fung.
With the duo both posting rounds of even-par 72 today, Nachimuthu has the slightest of advantage going into the final round of the RM200,000 event on Saturday with a one-shot lead over the home favourite.
Five strokes adrift in joint third are the pair of Md Rizal Amin (73) and S. Sivachandhran (75) with a 54-hole total of three-over 219 while the trio of Khor Kheng Hwai, M. Sasidaran and Sarawakian Kalana Ibrahim were a further shot back on 220.
The players were once again punished by the undulating fairways plus some tough pin positions at the tract with only Md Rashid Ismail and Solhairy Shariff other than the leading pair to post an even-par round.
Nachimuthu, who is aiming for a record fourth PGM Tour title this week, rued a couple of birdie misses which would have put some daylight between him and Fung.
“My putts simply did not drop today, I had at least five makeable birdies which didn’t go my way. Otherwise my game from tee to green was good, said the in-form 41-year-old Nachimuthu, who was two-under for the day before dropping shots on the finishing stretch with bogeys at the 17th and 18th.
“I hope my putter will behave tomorrow and I can go on to add another feather to my cap,” he added confidently.
An eagle on the par-four 10th was the highlight of Fung’s round but one too many up-and-downs for par means he remains one shot off the lead.
“Overall my game was not that good today. I started well with an opening birdie but bogeys on the sixth and eighth sort of took away my rhythm,” explained Fung.
“Luckily for me, I made a birdie at the last and with that eagle at the 10th, I was able to to stay at one-under for the tournament despite bogeys on the 14th and 16th,” said the 22-year-old, who is banking on home crowd support tomorrow to claim back-to-back wins at his childhood training ground.
Leading third round scores
214 R. Nachimuthu (70-72-720
215 Nicholas Fung (68-75-72)
219 Mohd Rizal Amin (75-71-73); S. Sivachandhran (68-76-75)
220 Khor Kheng Hwai (75-72-73); S. Sasidaran (75-72-73); Kalana Ibrahim (71-75-74)
222 Wilson Choo (74-75-73); Zamri Sharif (75-69-78)
223 (Chan Soo Keong); Haziq Hamizan (72-75-76)
224 Faridil Atras (74-76-74); Akhmal Tarmizee (77-73-74); Lam Yu Shuen (73-76-75); Anis Helmi Hassan (76-73-75)
225 Md Rashid Ismail (74-79-72); Dinata Abdullah (74-77-74); P. Gunasegaran (73-77-75); Airil Rizman (76-73-76); Zurie Harun (73-75-77)