Daeng lays down the gauntlet

Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz © Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

Port Dickson [NEGERI SEMBILAN]: Daeng Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman continued his confident start to life on the paid ranks by soaring to the third round lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Port Dickson Championship on Friday.

The rookie professional improved for a third day in a row, carding a brilliant four-under 67, thanks to a stretch of five birdies inside his finishing six holes at the Port Dickson Golf & Country Club.

The 17-year-old Johorean totalled nine-under 204 to lead 14-time PGM Tour winner Nicholas Fung (70) by a single stroke.

In-form Ben Leong – already twice a winner this season – returned with a 68 to lurk a further two shots behind at the RM185,000 tournament.

Youngsters Shariffuddin Ariffin (67) and Amir Nazrin Jailani (71) stayed within touching distance of the leading pack, taking a share of fifth alongside Nachimuthu Ramasamy (70) on 208.

Leading third round scores (Par-71)
204 – Daeng Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz 69-68-67
205 – Nicholas Fung 67-68-70
207 – Ben Leong 69-70-68
208 – Shahriffuddin Ariffin 72-69-67, Nachimuthu Ramasamy 66-72-70, Amir Nazrin Jailani 67-70-71
209 – Khor Kheng Hwai 72-70-67, Abel Tam 72-68-69, Mohd Nazri Mohd Zain 67-72-70
210 – Danny Chia 73-68-69, Sukree Othman 68-72-70

Having the distinction of being the Tour’s youngest-ever winner, Daeng displayed maturity beyond his years as the former national overcame a frustrating front nine with a grandstand finish.

“It was a fine round and I’m really happy with my effort. I didn’t feel nervous at all playing in the final flight but guess I made life difficult by conceding those silly mistakes on the front nine. My only regret is that despite making eight birdies, my lead is just by one,” said Daeng, who traded three birdies with as many bogeys on the outward nine.

“I knew I was playing well, so it was a matter of hanging in there and waiting to pounce. I had a lucky break on the back nine where I was striking the ball close and giving myself a lot of chances. My confidence grew with every single birdie with the only blemish being the bogey on 16th,” added the teenager, who won his maiden PGM Tour title as an amateur at the Danau Championship in 2015.

Daeng is bracing for a tough final round with two of the Tour’s seasoned winners – Nicholas Fung and Ben Leong playing alongside him in the final round.

“I’ve just got to stick to my game plan and stay ahead of the competition. Take every hole as it comes and try to eliminate the silly mistakes. It’s not the first time that I’m leading a competition going into the final round and while this is a different level, the approach remains the same,” noted Daeng confidently.