SMBC Singapore Open 2017

Golf: Field set for day 4 scramble at S'pore Open

Adam Scott (right) of Australia shelters from the rain as he prepares to line up a shot during the third round of the rain-hit SMBC Singapore Open held at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course yesterday.
Adam Scott (right) of Australia shelters from the rain as he prepares to line up a shot during the third round of the rain-hit SMBC Singapore Open held at Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong course yesterday.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Thai duo hold clubhouse lead but three-time S'pore Open champion Scott also in the hunt

A marathon day of golf awaits the SMBC Singapore Open field this morning, with players and officials keen to avoid a Monday finish for the second consecutive year.

For the second time in three days, the US$1 million (S$1.4 million) tournament was halted for several hours due to inclement weather. On Thursday, the delay was 21/2 hours and yesterday, a lightning threat stopped play for more than 31/2 hours.

This means 32 players, including co-leaders Adam Scott and Han Seung Su (both at eight-under but with five holes still to play), will return to the Sentosa Golf Club this morning to complete their third rounds before a quick turnaround for the final round.

World No. 7 Scott had made two birdies on holes four and seven to take the outright lead on nine-under but his momentum was disrupted by the postponement at 1.56pm. He lost that advantage when he returned and later three-putted the 454m, par-four 12th.

The Australian said: "It's one of those unfortunate days - stop and start, and kind of tricky conditions at the end there. The greens were obviously a different speed after all the rain.

"A little cooler, and rainy - the ball was not flying far, and the holes were playing long... But I'm still in the mix, so it's not too bad. I'm in good shape."

He remained confident of securing a fourth Singapore Open title. He added: "If I can just play some good golf and finish this round off strong, then I'll have my chances going into the last round."

  • LEADER BOARD

  • ROUND 3 (32 players yet to complete)

    205 Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)

    207 Park Sang Hyun (Kor)

    208 Yuki Inamori (Jpn), Prayad Marksaeng, Thanyakon Khrongpha (Tha), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)

    209 Lee Chang Woo, Kang Kyung Nam (Kor), Nicholas Fung (Mas)

    210 Ryuji Masaoka, Yoshitaka Takeya, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn), Adilson da Silva (Bra), Danthai Boonma (Tha), Michael Hendry (Nzl), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Choo Tze Huang (Sgp)

    Third round resumes at 7.30am. Final round to follow.

It may have been a long and wet day that stretched almost 12 hours for some, but there was no mistaking the relief and satisfaction from Thais Tirawat Kaewsiribandit and Phachara Khongwatmai.

Not only did they birdie the 18th hole, but they were also among the 45 players able to finish their third round before the siren sounded at 7.03pm and were the clubhouse leaders on eight-under 205.

Neither dropped a shot on the back nine at the Serapong course and Phachara, 17, shot a four-under 67 while Tirawat, 27, went one better with his 66.

Tirawat, who was the first alternative and got into the 156-man field on Thursday morning only after Simon Yates withdrew due to injury, said: "I am very happy with how I finished. It wasn't easy out there, especially with the rain."

This was unfamiliar territory for the world No. 746, whose best result was tied-second on the lower-tier Asian Development Tour's PGM MNRB Sarawak Championship in 2014.

He has dominated the par-fives so far, playing them in seven-under. When he returned at 5.30pm, he fired two birdies in his remaining three holes, which included one on the 496m, par-five 18th.

He said: "I came out again to play, feeling confident after the suspension. I managed to keep to my game plan. I didn't expect much because I only got in to the tournament on Thursday. I was really lucky."

Behind the four-way tie at the top were Japanese duo Hideto Tanihara and Satoshi Kodaira, both on seven-under with three and four holes left to complete respectively.

Tanihara won three times last season on the Japan Tour and was eyeing a hot start to this campaign. The world No. 54 said: "I'm only one stroke behind. I have been putting well. If I can see the line, I would make them tomorrow."

Singapore's Quincy Quek, who is seeking to become the first local to win the tournament, was in the next group of five players on six-under. There were 21 players within four shots of the lead in a bunched-up leader board.

The tournament is anyone's for the taking, said Phachara.

"Anything can happen on this golf course... I just want to stay in the present and stick to my game plan. If I get distracted, I'll feel very nervous and things will not go my way."


SMBC SINGAPORE OPEN
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 22, 2017, with the headline 'Field set for day 4 scramble'. Print Edition | Subscribe