June 09, 2018: Home favourite Panuphol Pittayarat birdied the last two holes for a four-under-par 66 to pull one shot clear in the third round of the Thailand Open on Saturday.
Playing on his home course, the bubbly Panuphol returned with a bogey free card to lead on 13-under-par 197 and put himself in prime position to win his second Asian Tour title at the Thai Country Club.
India’s Chikkarangappa shot an even 70 on Saturday to be lying at T18. He shot four bogeys on the front nine and an equal number of birdies on the back nine to work his way back to even par for the day.
Rahil Gangjee shot four-under-par 66 and is lying at T26. Rashid Khan and Gaganjeet Bhullar shot 73 and 68 respectively to reach Sunday on T39. Chiragh Kumar and Viraj Madappa shot 70 and 71 respectively in the third round.
Thailand’s Poom Saksansin trailed closely in second place after matching Panuphol’s 66 while overnight leader Sarit Suwannarut posted a 69 to lie in third place, two shots from the lead at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.
Asian Tour rookie Kurt Kitayama stayed in the title hunt following a 66 to share fourth place with four-time Asian Tour winner, Chapchai Nirat, who fired a blistering 64 for a 200 total.
The 25-year-old Panuphol, who won his first Asian Tour title last year, was neck-to-neck with Poom before he seized the outright lead by holing a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
“My win in Indonesia taught me how to win a golf tournament. I’m going to go out tomorrow and try to have fun.
I’m happy to be in contention and I’m happy that I’m playing well. I just want to be on top on Sunday. I’m not surprised with how well I’ve played. I missed four cuts before this week but it doesn’t mean that I played badly. I’ve been playing well but it just doesn’t reflect in my score.
The birdie on the last was nice. I hit a perfect drive and approach. My (10 feet) birdie putt slowed down a bit but it eventually fell into the hole so that was nice.”
Poom, a two-time Asian Tour winner, also birdied the last to stay in contention of becoming the fifth Thai player to win their National Open since 1965.
Asian Tour Release