Taiwanese Hung Chien-yao sizzled at the finish to cool down Jbe Kruger’s eagle-spiked 69, carding a four-under 68 and grabbing a one-stroke lead heading to what promises to be a wild, wooly final round of the $1 million Resorts World Manila Masters at the Manila Southwoods in Carmona, Cavite on Saturday.
The duo actually battled shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt through another windy day at the Masters after erstwhile joint leader Lee Chieh-po reeled back with early bogeys. But Hung came out of a bogey-birdie-bogey ride from No. 11 with back-to-back birdies from No. 14 then buried a clutch birdie on the par-3 17th to storm ahead with a pair of 34s and a 14-under 202.
That was one shot ahead of Kruger, who tied Hung with an eagle on the par-5 15th but settled for pars the rest of the way for a 35-34 and a 203.
Lee fought back strong from an opening three-bogey mishap with birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 7 and negated another bogey on the 10th with birdies on Nos. 12, 15 and 16. But he stumbled with a bogey on the par-5 18th, a birdie hole for most, and finished with a 71 and a 204.
That kept their spots in today’s championship flight and their sights on the top $135,000 purse as Filipino bets Rufino Bayron and Miguel Tabuena cracked under pressure and bowed out of the title race with so-so outputs in the pivotal round of the country’s richest golf championship hosted by the Manila Southwoods for the third straight year.
“Really?” said Hung when told of his strong finish. “I didn’t really notice, I just played my game. I didn’t even mark my score for the last five holes as I was focused a lot.”
He added that he plans to step up the attack in today’s final round where one mishit or poor decision could spell the difference between victory and defeat in a tightly-fought, pressure-packed finale.
Kruger, meanwhile, is hoping for the best and banking on his faith as he tries to stop Hung, foil the other pursuer and nail the victory.
Bayron, who moved just a stroke of Kruger, Hung and Lee with a 66 Friday, did make a lot of shots yesterday and shot himself in the foot with a 76, falling to joint 32nd with six others at 211, nine shots off Hung.
Tabuena, who shot two eagles in the second round to move within four of the leaders, rebounded from a double-bogey mishap on No. 2 and a bogey on No. 10 with an eagle-2 on No. 14 and two birdies but also bogeyed the 18th for a 72. He tumbled to joint 24th with seven others at 210.
Angelo Que took over for the embattled local side but with a fiery but rather late exploit, shooting a bogey-free six-under 66 to jump from joint 45th to a share of 12th with four others at 208.
But despite his 66 fashioned out in ideal condition in one of the early morning flights, the three-time Asian Tour winner stood six shots off Hung with 18 holes left in the 72-hole event.
Que opened with a pair of so-so 71s and stayed way behind with just a birdie to show at the frontside of a course he calls home.
But he struck back with back-to-back birdies to open the backside, hit another pair of birdies from No. 15 then birdied the par-5 18th for the third straight day for a 35-31 and an eight-under 208.
Aided by a new putting stance, Que also wielded a hot putter all day, making just 25 putts, including 11 at the back.
Jay Bayron shot a 68 while Clyde Mondilla carded a 69 to pool identical 212s, the same output put in by Tony Lascuna, who floundered with a 73, while Mars Pucay and Orlan Sumcad sputtered with 75 and 74 for 215 and 216, respectively.