May 20, 2017: Thai prospect Rattanon Wannasrichan closed with a pair of birdies to sign for a flawless six-under-par 65, grabbing the outright lead by one shot in the penultimate round of the US$300,000 Thailand Open on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Thai, who had held a share of the lead in the first two rounds, sank six birdies to stay atop the leaderboard on 17-under-par 196 total at the scenic Thai Country Club. His countryman Panuphol Pittayarat carded a superb 64 to trail by one in second place.
“I have no expectations. It’s my first time leading into the final round on the Asian Tour. I am really excited. My family will be coming out to watch me play tomorrow. I will just play for fun and we will see how it goes.” – Rattanon Wannasrichan
Overnight co-leader Gaganjeet Bhullar of India posted a 67 to take third place on 198 while Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat marked his best efforts of the week with a 65 to stay three shots off the pace in fourth at the Thailand Open.
“It was a hot and humid day. The wind wasn’t an issue today. That’s why you see a lot of low scores out there. At the back of my mind, I do know that I am in contention and I have the opportunity to chase for an eighth win on the Asian Tour.
At the end of the day, if you can putt well, you should be able to bring the trophy home. My goal is to give my 100% tomorrow. Whatever results my 100% gives me tomorrow, I will accept it”, said Anirban.
Malaysia’s Ben Leong returned with a 66 to share fifth place with Terry Pilkadaris (66) of Australia and Thailand’s Pawin Ingkhapradit (68) on 200 at the storied event, which returned onto the Asian Tour schedule this week following an eight-year lapse.
The Thailand Open, inaugurated in 1965, is also the first leg of the newly launched Panasonic Swing, which provides a bonus pool across five designated tournaments.
Did you know?
- Rattanon, who turned professional in 2012, is leading for the first time after 54 holes on the Asian Tour.
- Rattanon is ranked the best putter in the field after three rounds of the Thailand Open. He needed only 1.28 putts per greens in regulation at the Thai Country Club.
- Panuphol claimed his best results on the Asian Tour when he came in runner-up at the 2011 Selangor Masters and tied-second at the 2016 Indonesia Open.
- Panuphol has dropped only one shot so far this week.
- Panuphol, nicknamed ‘Coconut’, turned professional 10 years ago at a young age of 14. He has a brother nicknamed ‘Tamarind’ and a sister nicknamed ‘Lemon’.
- American Brett Munson is the biggest mover on the moving day of the Thailand Open. He carded a superb 62 to propel from tied-50th to tied ninth position on the leaderboard.
- Only three Thais have won the prestigious Thailand Open, which was inaugurated in 1965. They are Suthep Meesawat (1991), Boonchu Ruangkit (1992 and 2004) and Prayad Marksaeng (2013).
- The leading four players on the leaderboard are all in their 20s. Rattanon is the youngest at 21 years old while Panuphol is 24. Gaganjeet turned 29 last month and Kiradech is 27.
- Kiradech and Leong are good friends since their junior days. They will be playing together in the same group in the final round tomorrow.