Niall Turner is hoping Santa Claus comes early as he goes into Sunday's final round of the weather-reduced Philippine Open presented by ICTSI just three shots behind Canadian Lindsay Reynolds.
The Muskerry golfer made an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys in a four under 68 to move up four spots to joint seventh place on seven under par in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event, which has been reduced to 54 holes due to weather.
Bidding for his first win on the main Asian Tour, the 31-year old has secured his card for next year.. But he’ll be setting his sights on victory at Luisita Golf and Country Club. where Reynolds shot a four-under 68 to maintain his lead.
The Phuket-based Canadian leads by one stroke on 10-under 134 from Australian Scott Bar, who charged into contention with a superb 66.
Home favourite Miguel Tabuena was also in the title mix following a 69 as he shared third place with five-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar (69) of India, Kalle Samooja (67) of Finland and Giwhan Kim (68) of Korea on 136 at the Luisita Golf and Country Club.
Renolds, who needs a victory this week to secure playing rights on the Asian Tour next season, is prepared for a final round shootout in the weather-shortened Philippine Open.
“It is exciting to be in this position. My game feels good and I feel good. I’m not really worried or nervous. We will see what tomorrow brings. It is just another round of golf for me.
“It is a game which you win or lose. You can only think of it that way. Obviously there’s a lot on the line tomorrow but if I play good golf then things will work out the way it should,” said the 29-year-old, who is ranked 93rd on the Order of Merit.
Barr, ranked 64th on the Order of Merit, needs to better his rankings by one to retain his Asian Tour card which he has safely secured since 2004. The Australian rolled in 25 putts highlighted by a 15-foot eagle putt on the fifth hole to be in the running to claim a first Asian Tour victory.
“I’m pleased. Obviously this is a huge week. I got a great putting lesson from an old Asian Tour member Ahmad Bateman last week. Obviously when the putter starts rolling, the fairways get wider and everything gets easier,” said the Australian.
The 21-year-old Tabuena chipped-in for eagle on the last hole but was disappointed not to take advantage of his birdie opportunities.
“I had about five lipped out birdie chances and got frustrated. It is easy to lose your temper here because there are so many birdie holes and if you miss it, you will lose ground. I have to be as patient as possible tomorrow. There will be players who will try and force things but I’ve been in this position before and I know I can come out on top this time,” said Tabuena.
Indian star Bhullar birdied the last hole to stay within striking distance of winning a sixth Asian Tour title. “I’m in the title mix. I played really well from holes one to nine. It got a big dodgy on a few par fours on the back. My two bogeys were a result of a miss-management with the clubbing. Other than that it is a good solid round,” he said.
The halfway cut was set on even-par 144 with a total of 68 players qualifying for the final round.
Philippine Open after two of three rounds, Par 72, 7042 Yards Luisita Course course (am – denotes amateur):
134 – Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN) 66-68.
135 – Scott BARR (AUS) 69-66.
136 – Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN) 69-67, Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 67-69, Giwhan KIM (KOR) 68-68, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 67-69.
137 – Keith HORNE (RSA) 69-68, Khalin JOSHI (IND) 70-67, Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 67-70, Niall TURNER (IRL) 69-68, Jeunghun WANG (KOR) 67-70.
138 – Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG) 70-68, Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 68-70.
139 – Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 68-71, Charlie WI (KOR) 70-69, Charles HONG (PHI) 71-68, Janne KASKE (FIN) 71-68, Adam GROOM (AUS) 70-69, Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 68-71, Brett MUNSON (USA) 70-69, Orlan SUMCAD (PHI) 72-67, GOH Kun Yang (SIN) 70-69.
140 – LEE Chieh-po (TPE) 74-66, Matthew GILES (AUS) 70-70, Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 70-70, Joongkyung MO (KOR) 71-69, KOH Deng Shan (SIN) 70-70, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 70-70, LU Wei-chih (TPE) 70-70, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 72-68, Seukhyun BAEK (KOR) 69-71.