Kuala Lumpur: Danny Chia underlined his desire to improve on his career record at the Maybank Malaysian Open after a third round three-under 69 on Saturday.
The seasoned campaigner regained his putting touch on another sweltering day at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country, reeling in six birdies against three bogeys to push himself into a share of 13th alongside Scotsman Mark Warren (69), Prom Meesawat (70) of Thailand as well as South Korean pair of Wang Jeung-hun (69) and Kang Sung-hoon (69).
It left Chia eleven strokes behind Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who carded a near flawless nine-under 63 to pull two shots clear of Spaniard Alejandro Canizares at the top with a 17-under 199 overall.
Canizares rued a late bogey on #18 as he returned with a four-under 68 to remain in contention for his third European Tour crown, ahead of the English duo of Paul Waring (67) and titleholder Lee Westwood (69), who were joint third on 14-under 202.
A much polished display saw Chia move within touching distance of a top-ten finish at the prestigious US$3 million tournament – one better than his personal best of joint 11th at Saujana Golf & Country Club in 2009.
A tip from his coach Steven Giuliano put the experienced Malaysian back on track as he stayed in the hunt for a nice payday in what is the season-opening event of the Asian Tour’s 2015 season.
“I was far more assured with my putting today and was able to drain a couple of birdies early on to get my round off on a strong note. I spoke to my coach yesterday and we agreed that I had to be more committed on my putting line and just trust my reads.
“I made two quite silly mistakes on the back nine. On #12, I made a bad choice of club and hit it over the green and on the #16, I was in between clubs and I picked one club more and hit it too soft, pushing it right into the rough,” noted Chia.
Continuing his brilliant run of form which has yielded a victory and two-top ten finishes this year on the domestic front, Chia remained upbeat of a strong finish at his national Open.
“I wish I could be higher up the leaderboard but I’ve tried to improve with every round and to come back with an under-par score on this tract, it’s always a positive thing. Honestly, I’m still lacking the distance off the tees but I’m striking it accurately, so the plan tomorrow remains the same – just lay-up on the more difficult holes and give myself some birdie chances on the par-fives,” he added.
Another Malaysian in red numbers was Sukree Othman, who carded a solid two-under 70 to move into a tied 38th.
Starting on the back nine, the 39-year-old overcame a double bogey on the #12 with immediate back-to-back birdies before gaining two more shots on his inward nine to settle for a two-under 214 overall.
“I was lucky that the birdies came very soon after that costly mistake on the #12 – it’s been my bogey hole this week. I had a pretty slow start on the second nine but managed to gain two more birdies, which puts me in a tidy position. I’m very pleased with the way I’ve played and my scores are improving with every round, which is great,” said Sukree.
Leading third round scores:
199 – Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 70-66-63
201 – Alejandro Canizares (ESP) 68-65-68
202 – Lee Westwood (ENG) 66-67-69, Paul Warning (ENG) 69-68-65
204 – Anirban Lahiri (IND) 70-72-62
205 – Paul Peterson (USA) 72-69-64
206 – Richard T.Lee CAN) 69-69-68
207 – Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 69-71-67, Alvaro Quiros (ESP)70-70-67
208 – Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 70-70-68
Malaysians as they fared – third round:
210 – Danny Chia 67-74-69
214 – Sukree Othman 73-71-70
215 – Gavin Kyle Green (Am) 74-68-73
218 – Nicholas Fung 71-71-76
220 – R. Nachimuthu 73-72-75