Fernando surprises with third round lead

Anthony Fernando © Khalid Redza / World Sport Group

Kota Kinabalu: Former Filipino amateur star Anthony Fernando took the third round lead in the US$60,000 Sabah Masters today showing that he is starting to find his feet in the professional game.

The Filipino carded a one-over-par 71 for a slim one-stroke lead over Malaysians Nicholas Fung and S. Sivachandran, who both fired 72.

Filipino Jay Bayron, the 36-hole leader came in with a forgettable 75 yet finds himself only a stroke further behind after a tough scoring day at the Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club.

Fernando turned professional three years ago after a brilliant amateur career which saw him win the Philippine Amateur Championship and represent his country in the region’s leading team competitions. He has played regularly on the ASEAN PGA Tour and this week represents his best chance of winning his first professional title.

“The wind was blowing quite strong again today which makes the back nine very difficult. I was pleased to minimize any damage and shoot one over. The leader board is very tight and there are five or six players who can win this,” said Fernando, who made one birdie going out on the fifth and dropped two shots on holes 11 and 15.

He leads on one-under-par 209 in the sixth event of the season on the ASEAN PGA Tour.

S.Siva Chandran and Nicholas Fung © Khalid Redza / World Sport Group

Sabah’s favourite son Fung will have all the local support in the final round, looked to be in control of the tournament after playing the front nine in two under. However, he slipped back with five bogeys against a solitary birdie on the back nine.

“This course does take a lot of out of you when there is a breeze. It is very hard to judge approach shots. It is going to be close tomorrow but I definitely have a chance,” said Fung.

Siva, on the other hand had a mixed round, making the turn on one-under 35 on the back of four birdies against three birdies. A cold putter on the back saw him struggle with three bogeys, including the two final holes.

“I think lost some concentration on the back nine. I made a few bad shots and couldn’t recover from it and pretty much saw me slide down. Overall, I felt I did what I needed to, I was striking the ball well and putting well for majority of the round but there were some tough pin positions out there today.

“I think I was unlucky on a few occasions. I was two-on on the nine but my ball took a bad bounce and was in the rough and after recovering, I two-putted for a bogey. On the 17th, I missed a three-footer for par and just misjudged my approach on the last, so hopefully, I’m going to have a good round tomorrow,” added Siva.

Bayron, who like Fernando is looking for his first victory on the ASEAN PGA Tour, struggled today making five bogeys but is still very much contention.

Thailand’s Wisut Artjanawat, winner of last month’s Palembeng Musi Championship, fired a 72 and is three behind the leader. Indonesian number one Rory Hie is also within striking distance after his third 71 left him four back.

Filipino Gerald Rosales continued to show signs he is on the comeback trail after struggling with a wrist injury for several seasons. He returned the lowest round of the day, a bogey free 67, to lie five over for the tournament.

Leading third round scores
209 – Anthony Fernando (PHI) 68-70-71
210 – S. Sivachandran  70 68 72, Nicholas Fung 70-68-72
211 – Jay Bayron (PHI) 65-71-75
212 – Tanatchan Puaktes (THA) 68-73-71, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 72-68-72
213 – Rory Hie (INA) 71-71-71
215 – Gerald Rosales (PHI) 75-73-67, Marlon Dizon (PHI) 69-73-73
216 – Apichart Papitak (THA) 70-74-72
217 – Lim Eng Seng  72-74-71
218 – Pornsakon Tipsanit (THA) 74-74-70, Erwin Vinluan (PHI) 76-72-70, Marvin Dumandan (PHI) 75-74-69, Pornpong Phatlum (THA) 75-72-71