Shah Alam [SELANGOR]: Ben Leong made a gallant move up the leaderboard to finish as the best-placed Malaysian after 54 holes of the Maybank Championship on Saturday.
The one-time Asian Tour winner nonetheless cut a frustrated figure after conceding a bogey at the last – his third of the day – to sign for a three-under 69 at the Saujana Golf & Country Club.
It left Leong in a share of 23rd with five others including first round leader Marc Warren on six-under 210 – ten strokes behind championship leader Danny Willett.
“Hitting under-par here is good for me. It could have been better and could have been worse but we have one more day to go and I’m looking forward to it.
“It was tricky out there today, the winds were swirling a little bit, especially on the last hole when I short-sighted myself and gave away a poor bogey,” rued the Sabahan, who had six birdies on his card.
Leong won five consecutive titles on the domestic Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) circuit before regaining his Asian Tour card at the 2017 Qualifying School in January where he came in fourth.
But he has found it hard to re-produce that form on a regional stage, missing consecutive cuts at the SMBC Singapore Open and Leopalace 21 Myanmar Open in recent weeks.
“It’s been a rough couple of weeks, considering what I had last year. I look at the positives – you only learn when you play bad and I gained a lot over the last month. I mean you can’t be playing well and winning all the time. But’s all good now and hopefully, it can only get better,” said Leong.
Amateur Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz continued his golfing education with a solid third round 71 – carding four birdies against three bogeys to sit in a tie for 29th on five-under 211.
“I’d say it was a fair score. I started really well on the front nine but got into a bit trouble after the turn to concede a couple of bogeys. Birdied seventh (he had started on the 10th tee) to remain under-par for the day, which was pretty important for my confidence,” said the 17-year-old.
Maybank ambassador Gavin Kyle Green posted a disappointing 75 to slip to two-under, alongside Danny Chia (73) and Nicholas Fung (72) while Arie Irawan failed to arrest his slump – a five-over 77 leaving him at the wrong end of the leaderboard.