Macau, October 13: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar stayed firmly
in the driver’s seat at the Venetian Macau Open after scrambling to a
two-under-par 69 in the third round on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Bhullar, who has led the US$750,000 Asian
Tour event from the opening day, retained his overnight two-shot lead at the
Macau Golf and Country Club but rued two missed putts in the last two holes.
Thai youngster Thitiphun Chuayprakong also shot a 69 to stay
in contention for a maiden Asian Tour victory while Filipino Angelo Que (70),
Scott Hend of Australia (69) and American Berry Henson (68) will enter the
final round four shots back.
Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee’s
challenge fizzled after a disappointing 73 while Bangladeshi Siddikur also
failed to mount a run at Bhullar following a 72 which included five dropped
shots in the middle of his round.
The supremely talented Bhullar will be aiming for a second
victory within the space of a month but knows his challengers will not hand him
the victory on Sunday. “I’ve won a few times wire-to-wire in India. The goal
now is to do it on the bigger stage and on a bigger level,” said Bhullar, who
has a three-day total of 13-under-par 200.
“I’ve been in this situation a few times. I know it’s a
difficult thing. I’m going to try to do the same things as I did in India and
keep it simple. Just repeat what I’ve been doing the past three days and play
The lead could have been bigger for Bhullar, ranked sixth on
the Order of Merit, if he had not missed short putts in his last two holes. The
Indian missed par from three feet on 17 and then failed to convert a birdie
chance from a similar range at the last hole. In all, he snared five birdies
against three bogeys.
“That’s not the finish I was thinking of. I’m feeling
positive and I’m feeling good. I’ve really improved my driving and it was long
and straight today. I’m looking forward to playing well on Sunday,” said
Bhullar, who unknowingly drove the seventh green when the group ahead was still
Thitiphun, 20, continued to show his growing stature by
staying in touch with Bhullar after signing for four birdies against two
bogeys. He overcame his early nerves to remain as Bhullar’s main threat.
“I played so-so but I scored. I felt pressure on the front
nine. My swing wasn’t good … it changed. But I kept playing to my plan and that
worked for me. Still 18 holes tomorrow. I will need to keep to my plan,” said
He featured in the final group at the Indonesian Masters
last year alongside England’s Lee Westwood and hopes to use the experience to
good effect at the Venetian Macau Open, which is title sponsored by The
Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel for the first time.
“I hope to learn from my past experience. I’ll just keep
telling myself to relax. I’ll need to breathe slowly in between shots,” said
the Thai. “Gaganjeet played well but I can still catch him. He’s a superstar
and playing really well at the moment.”
After starting the week with a bad flu, Henson, last
season’s winner of the ICTSI Philippine Open, moved quietly into contention
with five birdies against two bogeys.
“Sometimes for me, I play good when I’m sick. I won in the
Philippines when I was dehydrated. I think I’m over the hump and should feel
better tomorrow. I’m hitting it really good but just missing a lot of putts. I
counted the missed putts today and yesterday and I could easily be 15 under. If
my speed and lines are a bit better tomorrow, hopefully they’ll drop in,” said
Filipino Que, chasing a fourth Asian Tour win, was kicking
himself for not taking advantage of the easier front nine which he toured in 37
following a triple bogey on the fifth hole. But he fought back on the inward
stretch with three birdies.
“I’ve been starting bad the last three days. First
round I was two over after five, yesterday I was two over after seven and today
I was three over after six. I was hitting it good, just one bad hole. Luckily I
held myself together and came back pretty good,” said Que.
“On this course, if you start making putts on the front
nine, you can go seven or eight under which is possible. But I’m just enjoying
where I am right now. I’ll just play my own game and won’t even look so much at
the leaderboard. Gaganjeet is in form. He has been playing well the past few
months, top-10s and winning once. He’s a pretty hard man to beat.”
Scores after round 3 of the Venetian Macau Open 2012
being played at the par 71, 6,606 Yards Macau GCC course (a- denotes amateur):
200 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 63-68-69.
202 - Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 67-66-69.
204 - Berry HENSON (USA) 67-69-68, Scott HEND (AUS)
65-70-69, Angelo QUE (PHI) 68-66-70.
205 - Jonathan MOORE (USA) 67-68-70, Adilson DA SILVA (BRA)
68-66-71, Kieran PRATT (AUS) 66-68-71, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 65-68-72.
206 - Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 68-72-66, SIDDIKUR (BAN)
207 - Unho PARK (AUS) 69-68-70, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 70-67-70,
Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 69-68-70, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 66-68-73.
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About the Asian Tour
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for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf
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to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the
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