Michael Campbell shot a course record 63 in the third round of the Johnnie Walker Classic in his bid to successfully defend the title at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club on Bangkok. But the New Zealander must first catch world number one Tiger Woods who extended his lead to three shots as he chases a tenth title of the year.
Twelve months ago Campbell returned from the wilderness to win this title and claim his first European Tour victory. The 31-year-old went on to win two more tournaments on the European Tour International Schedule in addition to two on the Australasian Tour and is clearly relishing his return to Thailand.
After a bogey on the first hole Campbell picked up nine birdies to draw level with Woods after 14 holes. But the Open, US Open and US PGA champion rose to the challenge with three successive birdies from the 13th. His wedge approach to the 13th span back almost into the hole to set up an easy birdie; at the par-five next he was on in two and two-putted from 25 feet, and he completed the hat-trick on the par-three 15th from five feet.
Campbell kept up the pressure with a 10th birdie of his own on the 17th to card a brilliant 63 - the joint lowest round of his career and a new course record, beating playing partner Garcia's 64 of yesterday. Campbell’s 54-hole total of 201 leaves him sharing second with Australian Rodney Pampling. Another Aussie Geoff Ogilvy is a further shot back on 202.
"Sergio and I were sitting in the locker room today and saying we needed to break the course record to have any chance of winning the tournament," said Campbell. "I think I might have to break it again tomorrow."
Woods will be looking for his second johnnie walker Classic title in three years having claimed the title the last time the event was played in Thailand in 1998.
"The whole idea today was to shoot something in the mid-60s as I knew the course would be a lot more receptive," said five-time Major winner Woods.
The American will play with Campbell and Pampling, both of whom are good friends with Woods, in the final round. Woods and Campbell played together on the first two days but on the back nine tomorrow small talk will take a back seat.
"Campbell and I get along great. Michael knows as well as I do that coming down the stretch, it'll be a lot more quiet. I've done that with some of my best friends, like with Mark O'Meara at Wentworth (in the Cisco World Matchplay Championship) where we played the last five holes in complete silence," said Woods, did not drop any shots today.
"I'm happy with the way I'm playing. I'm really driving the ball well and that's what you have got to do on this golf course. Anytime you play with Bermuda rough, you have to be on the fairways. When you're in the rough, you don't know how the ball will come out," added the 24 year old.3rd Round Video Highlights