Thongchai Jaidee’s solid iron play fired the Thai to the top of the leaderboard at the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open as he shot a five under par 67 to take a one shot lead into the final round.
The 39 year old made a hot start to the third round at New Kuta Golf Club with five birdies on the front nine.
He dropped a shot after bogeying the 16th but rolled in his sixth birdie of the round on the 18th to finish the day on nine under par, a stroke ahead of Alexander Noren of Sweden, who enjoyed a bogey free 66.
“My irons were good and consistent except for one hole. But the key was my putting, which was good,” said Thongchai, a ten times a winner on the Asian Tour.
Scott Drummond briefly held the lead after Thongchai’s troubles on the 16th hole, but the Scot bogeyed his last two holes for a 69 which dropped him into a tie for third on seven under par alongside Jeppe Huldahl of Denmark and the English quartet of Ross McGowan, Richard Bland, Simon Dyson and Simon Griffiths.
Overnight leader Steve Webster carded a level par 72 to join India’s Jyoti Randhawa and Jamie Donaldson of Wales on six under par.
Thongchai, who returned to action this week after missing the Johnnie Walker Classic due to illness, began his round on four under par, but took advantage of benign conditions on the front nine to go out in 31.
He rolled home a 12 foot putt on the second hole and reeled off consecutive birdies from the fourth to sixth before making another on the ninth to make the turn on nine under par, two shots clear of the rest of the field.
He maintained his advantage by parring the first five holes on the blustery back nine, but his luck finally ran out when his approach shot on the 16th hole rolled off the green and he missed his par putt from eight feet.
However, the Thai recovered to roll home a 14 foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to move back into the lead.
After his early rush of birdies, Thongchai was relieved to survive the back nine with little damage.
“The pin positions were tough and the wind was strong on the back nine,” he said.
“If you make the fairway, it’s easy to get on the green but the greens are also very tricky this week. If you hit it more than three feet, it’s quite tough and difficult to read the line.
“On the 18th, I read the line well. It was a nice finish and I enjoyed it. I will use the same game plan tomorrow – fairway, green and putt. I hit 16 greens today.”
Despite nursing a wrist problem, Noren powered his way up the leaderboard after a flawless 66 which included four birdies on the front nine and two on the way in.
“I had a lot of chances, and made my fair share on the front nine, but I left a few out there. That’s always the case but it’s still one of my best rounds of golf, especially from tee to green,” said the 26 year old, who is chasing his first European Tour win.
“My wrist was hurting yesterday, which is why I’ve got it strapped up. It’s been troubling me on and off for quite a few weeks now, but never when I’m actually playing.
“It hurt yesterday though, so I was actually pretty happy with a 73. Today, I wasn’t even sure if I would play or not but that’s the way it always seems to be – when you’re not focusing on your golf and you don’t have any expectations, you just tend to go out there and play.”
After narrowly missing out on his maiden European Tour win at last week’s Johnnie Walker Classic, McGowan is back in contention again after holing birdies on his final two holes to close to within two shots of the lead.
“It was looking a bit dodgy when I was two over through nine. I missed a few putts, but a 10 footer on the tenth got me going, and another birdie on the 11th got me back to level par,” said the 26 year old.
“Then I closed with a couple more, and all of a sudden I’m in the mix. It’s the perfect place to strike from, as Danny Lee proved last week. Hopefully it’s my turn this week!”