ANTALYA, Turkey: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Ireland’s Shane Lowry share a two-shot lead heading into the final round of the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya.
Neither player dropped a shot on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with Kiradech signing for a five-under par 66 and Lowry a six-under 65 to move to 14-under par in the $7 million (6 million euros) event on the Regnm Carya course.
Three players share third place on 12-under par — Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and England’s Justin Rose, who both shot a seven-under par 64, along with Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, the first and second round leader who posted a disappointing 73.
“I am very pleased to come from five strokes behind at the start of my round to be at the top of the leaderboard,” said Kiradech, who has his eyes on the $1.6 million first prize.
The affable Thai golfer has enjoyed three wins on the European Tour and while runner-up last month in the Italian Open he has not tasted success since winning twice in 2015, first in China and then later that year for a first time on European soil in Scotland.
Kiradech, however, is clearly benefitting from two big decisions this season: firstly to begin working with the renowned Peter Cowen, long-time coach to 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson; and secondly dropping 18kg from a high of 108kg.
The third round was also the occasion of his father’s birthday and Kiradech celebrated by arranging a number of fellow Tour colleagues, including Stenson who is his father’s idol, to extend birthday wishes.
“I asked five top players this morning if they would let me video a message and I especially have to thank Henrik, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts,” Kiradech said.
“Henrik, it’s really special for him (his father) and he is his idol. He never asks me for photos but he asked me last week at the World Golf Championships. That’s why I try to beat him (Stenson)… because my dad love you too much.”
Lowry heads to the final day with the same record as Kiradech having won three times on the European Tour but with the last also two years ago.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won so I can’t really remember what it was like,” he joked.
“I just have to get out there tomorrow (Sunday) and play my game and do what I do every day. If it’s good enough, it’s good enough. If it’s not, so be it and that’s the way it is.”
Colsaerts went into day three leading by four and had extended his lead to five shots when he birdied the seventh hole.
But a double bogey six on the 11th where he found water and bogeys at 12 and 16 saw him drop to a share of third.
World No.6 Rose capped his round with four birdies in succession from the 12th in his bid to secure back-to-back victories for a first time in his career after winning last week’s WGC – HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.
Today was the best I’ve played all week, and maybe even better than last week,” said Rose.
Harrington needed just 21 putts in signing for his lowest round since a 63 on route to victory in last year’s Portugal Masters.