Jeremiah in driver’s seat for CIMB Classic spot

KUALA LUMPUR: Jeremiah Kim Leun Kwang is one step closer towards a dream victory after retaining his overnight three-shot advantage following the third round at the CIMB National Championship at TPC Kuala Lumpur’s East Course on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Kim carded a four-under-par 67, highlighted by six birdies against two bogeys, to stay ahead of Amir Nazrin Jailani, who stayed in the hunt with a matching 67 which featured five birdies.

With Nachimuthu Ramasamy (72), Mohd Sukree Othman (72) and Alex Tiong Wei Zen (69) sharing third place and lying eight shots behind the leader, the fight for the title looks to be between two of the country’s emerging young golfers.

The winner on Friday takes home RM30,000 and earns a prized spot in the US$7 million CIMB Classic next month, which is the only PGA Tour tournament in Southeast Asia.

Leading third round scores (Par-71)
202 – Jeremiah Kim Leunkwang 67-68-67
205 – Amir Nazrin Jailani 67-71-67
210 – Alex Tiong 67-74-69, Nachimuthu Ramasamy 67-71-72, Sukree Othman 66-72-72
211 – Mohd Rizal Amin 72-70-69, Kenneth De Silva 72-66-73
212 – Irfan Yusoff 73-68-71
213 – Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari 70-72-71
214 – Muhd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf 71-72-72
215 – Shahriffuddin Ariffin 71-71-74

“I’m happy with my game,” said Kim, who is seeking a first professional victory. “Amir played really well and it was quite fun out there. Hopefully I can do this again tomorrow and I hope it’s good enough. I hit my irons solid and gave myself a few chances.”

His second bogey of the round on 18 left him slightly disappointed. After missing a drive, he failed to get up and down to save his par. “Slight hiccup at the last. An under par round is still a good round. I’ll stick to my game plan tomorrow … aim to hit fairways and greens. You can’t think of the rewards as we’re still 18 holes away,” said Kim.

Kim, who turned professional when he was 17, refused to write off the chasing pack despite the eight-shot gap between him and the third-ranked golfers.

“You never know, someone might shoot a 62 or 63 around here. You can’t say they’re out of it yet. I’ll just need to take care of my own business,” he said.

After finishing third in last year’s CIMB National Championship, Amir kept himself in the chase by trading blows with Kim during their third-round final group match. “We hit it close, it was a good fight,” said the 21-year-old former national.

“I’ll try to be more aggressive tomorrow. You can’t say it’s a big lead … maybe it’s a pressure lead. Three shots, anything can still happen. I’ll try to keep it close and see if I get a chance to overtake him. I’m playing good enough to shoot another low round,” he added.