KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand stayed in the hunt for his first Asian Tour title, shooting a 4-under 68 on Saturday for a share of the lead with Rhys Davies of Wales after the third round at the Malaysian Open.
Kiradech birdied three of his last four holes and is 11 under heading into the final round at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Davies shot a 71 during a round that included three birdies and a double bogey.
Two-time champion Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, Soren Hansen of Denmark and Koreans K.J. Choi and Noh Seung-yul are each one shot off the lead.
Kiradech nearly made the first hole-in-one of the tournament when his six-iron tee shot on the 15th ended up an inch behind the hole. He continued his strong finish with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.
“My highlight has to be the 15th hole,” Kiradech said. “I couldn’t see where my tee shot ended but heard the crowd shouting, and when I walked over I saw the ball was about an inch from the hole.”
Davies, who played 25 holes on Saturday, had two birdies on the front nine. After a double bogey on the 10th – the result of an errant drive into the water hazard – he fought back with a birdie on No. 17 and then missed for the outright lead when he missed a birdie putt on the last hole.
“When you are playing well and making birdies, you don’t feel so tired, but when a double bogey comes along you feel pretty shattered,” said Davies, who won twice on the European Challenge Tour last year.
Thongchai mixed five birdies with two bogeys for a 69 in his bid to win a record-tying third victory in the event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
“It was a bit hard as the pins were quite tough on the back nine but it was a good round. I’m pretty close now and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said.
Choi, aiming for a Malaysian double after his victory in the Iskandar Johor Open last October, put himself back in contention with a 69.
“I like where I am at,” Choi said. “Yesterday and today, I just sweated so much and I feel weary now. Tomorrow, I just need to overcome the heat for one more day and try to close it out.”