Superb 66 steers Fung to Melaka lead

Nicholas Fung © ArepKulal/PGM

Ayer Keroh: A nail-biting conclusion to the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Melaka Classic is in prospect with only five strokes separating the top seven player after conclusion of round three at Ayer Keroh Country Club on Friday.

Sabahan Nicholas Fung produced a flawless display to leap into contention, carding a course record six-under 66 to tie overnight leader Sukree Othman (74) on two-under 214.

Leading the chase was reigning Order of Merit champion Nachimuthu Ramasamy, who posted a round of two-under 70 for a 215 total to sit alongside Airil Rizman Zahari (73) and Ben Leong (74) in tied third.

A further stroke back was Khor Kheng Hwai, who was sole sixth on 216 after a round of 71. Reigning champion S. Sivachandhran (74) was five strokes off the pace, sharing seventh placing with Solhairy Shariff (72) in the RM125,000 tournament.

Describing his round as “simply awesome”, surprise package Fung notched five birdies on the front nine before adding another birdie on the tenth to brighten his chances of a first victory in 2012. “It was a fantastic round and I am delighted that I am challenging for another victory,” said the two-time PGM Tour winner.

Starting the day eight shots behind Sukree, Fung made his intent clear as he birdied the par-five ninth, which ranks as one of the nation’s longest holes at 604-metre.

“It’s not an easy hole to get a birdie but I kept it clean -a driver to the centre of the fairway, hybrid to within 100 yards and pitched in an approach to about four feet off the pin,” described the xx-year-old, who acknowledged that the final round is going to be ‘no walk in the park’.

Meanwhile, Sukree continued to struggle with his rhythm after looking very much the walk-in favourite with an opening five-under 67 on Wednesday. “I am lacking a bit of feel and I haven’t been very consistent either. My putting has let me down a little, so I’m just going to give it a quick think over and come back much stronger tomorrow,” shared the 35-year-old Perak native.

He also acknowledged that any player in the top ten had a worthy chance of claiming the title tomorrow. “It’ going to be tough tomorrow because anyone that slips up is going to lose out But on the other hand, it’s proof that our burgeoning domestic tour is increasingly becoming challenging, which is only a good thing,” he added.

Leading third round scores
214 Nicholas Fung 74-74-66, Sukree Othman 67-73-74
215 R. Nachimuthu 71-74-70, Airil Rizman Zahari 72-70-73, Ben Leong 70-71-74
216 Khor Kheng Hwai 73-72-71
219 Solhairy Sharif 77-70-72, S. Sivachandhran 72-73-74
221 Shaaban Hussin 73-74-74
22 Shaifubari Muda 73-73-76
223 Kalana Ibrahim 75-77-71
224 Danny Chia 77-76-71, M. Sasidaran 77-72-75, Md Rashid Ismail 74-75-75, Mohd Hafiy Suhaili 73-75-76
225 Akhmal Tarmizee 75-79-71, P. Gunasegaran 73-77-75, S. Murthy 74-73-78