Wang takes over lead at Macau Open
Chinese Taipei veteran Wang Ter-chang fired two closing birdies for a four-under-par 67 to earn the Macau Open third round lead and a shot at ending a six-year title drought.
The 42-year-old Wang leads the US$275,000 Asian Tour event by one stroke from American Edward Loar, who charged into contention with a 66 at the par-71 Macau Golf and Country Club. Defending champion Jason Knutzon and Australian rookie Jarrod Lyle, who was battling leukaemia just six years ago, share third place a further stroke back.
Former Masters champion Fred Couples fell out of the title chase, shooting a 69 and the popular American will enter the final round seven shots behind Wang, whose last victory was at the 1999 Myanmar Open. Overnight leader Lu Wei-lan of Chinese Taipei stumbled to a 73 for tied fifth place.
"I had a good back nine," said a smiling Wang, who has a three-day total of 11-under-par 202. "I've not won for a long time and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I know the course very well as I've been here since 1999. I have a good chance."
A three-putt bogey on the second hole was quickly erased with birdies on the fifth and eighth. At the turn, Wang birdied the 13th and then pulled to the top of the leaderboard with birdies on the last two holes.
Wang knocked a four iron to 15 feet for birdie at the 239-yard par three 17th, which plays dramatically downhill and termed as "nerve-wracking" by Couples. It was only one of four birdies all day on this hole and Wang then seized the lead with a seven-foot birdie conversion at the par five 18th hole.
Wang had a chance to end his winless run at last December's Volvo Masters of Asia in Kuala Lumpur but wrote off his chances then despite taking a share of the third round lead. Asked why he felt confident in Macau , Wang said: "It's windy here, just like at home in Taipei . I am comfortable in these conditions. I know I have a chance and 13 or 14-under-par can probably win this," said Wang, who was fifth in Macau three years ago.
Left-handed Loar enjoyed a birdie binge with eight on the card but dropped three shots. The reigning Korean Open champion arrived in Macau on the back of a sixth place finish at last week's SK Telecom Open in Korea .
"I had a nice tournament last week, played with Fred and KJ Choi on the first few days which was a confidence booster and I played solid. It's quite bunched at the top here and you just have to go out and make birdies tomorrow. On the front nine, there are birdie chances," said Loar.
The 23-year-old Lyle, playing in his maiden season on the Asian Tour, was delighted to be battling for the eighth Macau Open title, just six years after his successful fight with leukaemia. The Melbourne-based Lyle was the only player in the field who was bogey free on another wind-swept day, shooting birdies on the second, third, seventh and 13th holes to charge into contention.
"I'm just loving every minute that I'm on top of the ground and not in the ground," said Lyle. "I was diagnosed with leukaemia in 1999, took 18 months off from golf and had six days of
chemotherapy and came through that.
"I was with a lot kids who didn't get out. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. It's always my dream to be a golfer and to be out here doing it and playing well is incredible. I've got a new lease of life and you don't take things for granted," said Lyle.
Title holder Knutzon, hoping to match Zhang Lian-wei's feat of winning back-to-back Macau titles, goes into Sunday's shootout in a confident mood. He could have been further adrift if not for some big shots. On the treacherous 17th, he misclubbed but saved par from the front edge of the green and then drained a 15-footer at the last for birdie.
"I've got a chance to win, it's all you can ask for. It was important to save par on 17 as I hit a five iron which was well short. I was happy to make the putt at the last as it keeps me up there," said Knutzon, who was three shots behind going into the final round last year before winning his maiden Asian Tour title.
The 45-year-old Couples raised early hope of a title charge as he turned in 31 with four birdies but a poor back nine where he was two over par put him out of the title frame. "It was good and then it became really bad," said Couples. "You can't come back from an eight, really (referring to his quadruple bogey in the second round). I listen to Tiger Woods all the time and he always says that he's never out of it. I would have to shoot nine or 10 under probably but I don't think it's there. I know I can shoot in the 60s though," said Couples.
Former two-time champion Zhang slumped to a 74 to drop to tied 33rd place on 213 while Thailand 's Thaworn Wiratchant, second on the Order of Merit, signed for a 73 for joint 24th place.
Leading third round scores
202 - Wang Ter-chang (TPE) 66-69-67
203 - Edward Loar ( USA ) 71-66-66
204 - Jarrod Lyle (AUS) 67-70-67, Jason Knutzon ( USA ) 67-68-69
205 - Suk Jong-yul (KOR) 67-68-70, Lu Wei-lan (TPE) 66-66-73, Marcus Both (AUS) 65-68-72
206 - Lin Chie-hsiang (TPE) 69-71-66, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 67-68-71, Jason Dawes (AUS) 67-67-72
207 - Corey Harris (USA) 68-71-68, Kao Bo-song (TPE) 71-66-70, Zheng Wen-gen (CHN) 65-70-72
209 - Fred Couples (USA) 68-72-69, Andrew Pitts (USA) 69-70-70, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 69-70-70, Anthony Kang ( USA ) 70-68-71
210 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 71-71-68, Harmeet Kahlon ( IND ) 71-67-72
211 - Brad Oh (KOR) 70-73-68, Scott Strange (AUS) 72-70-69, Chen Tze-chung (TPE) 69-70-72, Arjun Singh (IND) 71-68-72
212 - Gerry Norquist ( USA ) 71-72-69, P. Gunasegaran (MAS) 73-69-70, Frankie Minoza (PHI) 73-69-70, Amandeep Johl (IND) 70-71-71, Yeh Chang-ting (TPE) 71-70-71, Lin Wen-Ko (TPE) 73-68-71, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 71-70-71, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-68-73, Alejandro Quiroz (MEX) 70-68-74
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