Leader Phachara chased by 24-strong mob after Round Three of Saudi Open

$1m Asian Tour event set for interesting finish in the season-ender

By KT Golf

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Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai. - AFP
Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai. - AFP

Published: Sat 16 Dec 2023, 10:37 PM

Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai shot a four under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead after three-rounds of the $1 million Saudi Open presented Public Investment Fund.

He leads on 12 under from compatriot Denwit Boriboonsub here at Riyadh Golf Club – in the Asian Tour’s season-ender.

Australian Travis Smyth carded a 64 and is a further shot back with Indian Veer Ahlawat, who returned a 66, and Todd Sinnott, also from Australia, who came in with a 69.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson gave himself a shot at the title tomorrow after shooting a 67 and is tied for sixth with three other players on nine-under.

All eyes will be on Phachara as he attempts to win his second title on the Asian Tour. It was two years ago that he claimed his maiden title, the 2021 Laguna Phuket Championship, before a stream of near misses followed.

He began the day in a share of the lead with Denwit and Sinnott and later took control with three birdies from the 10th for a three-shot advantage. Wayward approach shots on 16, where he made a bogey, and 17, where he saved a par, stopped his momentum.

Dubai Golden Visa Awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar. - Supplied photo
Dubai Golden Visa Awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar. - Supplied photo

“Today started very good, until like the end,” Phachara said.

“All driver, all putting, all chipping, perfect until like the end. I struggled with my iron on last couple of holes.

“I missed the par-five 15th, hit it big right, and maybe after that feel like I am not trust myself, but I just tried to keep score, not lose my mind. If my game is like today I still have a chance tomorrow because today I hit perfect, make a lot of birdies,” he added.

In-form Denwit missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last to draw level with Phachara. He is bidding to complete the hat-trick tomorrow having won the ARAMCO Invitational, also in Saudi Arabia, two weeks ago on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), followed by the Thailand Open last week.

After his 64, the second best round of the day, Smyth said: “Yeah, it was amazing. You know, for the last three months I feel like the putter has been letting me down, and today yeah, I hit some okay shots, but I was getting lucky, I’ll be honest.

|I was holing like 20-footers, 40-footers, I think I even holed a 50-footer as well. So, it was a little bit of luck, but it felt amazing, especially with the last few months that I’ve had it just felt unreal.”

Thailand’s amateur star Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat came in with a 67 and is eight under in a tie for 10th.

Dubai Golden Visa Awardee Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) is in tied 25th.

Gaganjeet told Khaleej Times: “I like the golf course at Riyadh Golf Club. I shot a bogey free three under par 68. I hit 12 or 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation.


“I was a smooth round and a few more holed putts could have resulted in another special round for me. Let’s hope I can keep it going in the final round.”

Joshua Grenville-Wood (UAE), 25 years-old, shot a seven birdie 65 to move up to tied 19th.

Leading Round Three Scores

(7,246 Yards, Par 71).

P. Khongwatmai (Thai) 68. 66. 67. 201.

D. Boriboonsub (Thai) 68. 66. 68. 202.

T. Smyth (Aus) 71. 68. 64. 203.

V. Ahlawat (Ind) 70. 67. 66. 203.

T. Sinnott (Aus) 67. 67. 69. 203.

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