Samui - Nicholas Fung of Malaysia recovered from a sore throat to shoot 68 and take a one stroke lead over former champion Thaworn Wiratchant and Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines heading into the final round of the US$500,000 Queen's Cup Bangkok Airways-SAT Samui Golf Tournament.
The 27-year-old arrived here without much expectations as he was suffering from fever but three days later he ended up as the third round leader on the Asian Tour for the first time after firing an 11-under-par 202.
“I was really sick and had a bad throat. I couldn’t talk. I had antibiotics for ten days. I just came here to enjoy my golf but to finish 11-under was a bonus for me,” said the Malaysian, who won the 2013 PGM-UMW Templer Park Masters and 2015 PGM Johor Championship on the Asian Development Tour.
Fung made a birdie on the last hole to take the lead from Thaworn, who settled for a par. Pagunsan, who produced a birdie on the last hole, joined the Thai in second place.
“This is a big surprise for me to be in the lead. It is my first time. It’s a new experience for me. Now I want to play my own game and don’t want to think too much. If I keep the ball in play I will have good results,” said the Malaysian, who had to be content with second place after a play-off with SSP Chawrasia in the 2016 Resorts World Manila Masters.
The 50-year-old Thaworn, who won on this course in 2008, 2012 and 2014, struggled with his putting before signing off with a 70 for 10-under-par 203.
“I didn’t putt well. The greens felt a bit harder than the other days. I’m happy with the way I’m playing this week. I may appear a bit upset but that’s normal,” said the 18-time Asian Tour winner, who despite his triple success on the course and extensive experience doesn’t feel he has an edge over young rivals.
“I don’t think I have an advantage. Nicholas is a good player. Also, there are Juvic at 10-under and several guys at 9-under. So it depends on putting. Who putts better will win. Everyone who hits a good tee shot and putts well stand a shot,” said Thaworn, whose last victory on the Tour was at the King’s Cup in 2014.
Local young gun Jazz Janewattananond fired a flawless 65 for 204, which placed him at tied fourth position alongside Danny Chia of Malaysia, Hung Chien-yao of Taiwan and Angelo Que of the Philippines.
“I am luckier than the players in the leading group. When I teed off this morning, it was not so windy. I had a good first round but had a bad second round as I didn’t hit straight and make putts. But I fought my way back for six under,” said Jazz.
“This is one of my favourite courses as it’s in Thailand and you don’t have to hit long. I prefer not going into the final round as a leader because the pressure is immense,” said the 21-year-old, whose best finish here was a joint third two years ago.