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Saturday, 02 June 2012
Thongchai Jaidee  (Getty Images)
Thongchai Jaidee (Getty Images)

Thongchai Jaidee set up a golden opportunity to register his first victory on European soil as a third round 67 gave the Thai golfer a one shot lead at the ISPS Handa Wales Open.

The three-time Asian Number One has four European Tour titles to his name, but they all came in the Far East and Jaidee is now keen to establish himself outside his home continent.

“I’ve won a lot of times in Asia and I’ve played well a lot of times in Asia,” said Jaidee, after reaching seven under par with a round to play at The Celtic Manor Resort.

“In Europe, it’s very important for me to do well because the weather is going to be very difficult for me. I've learned a lot of things - how to play with these conditions.

“I think this time it's a very good chance. You never know how it's going to be tomorrow, but I’ll try to give it my best and look forward.

“If I keep my game plan like this, I have a good chance. I’ll play my own game - the best thing to do is to hit fairways, hit the greens and putt well. That's my key tomorrow.”

Overnight leader Ross Fisher missed an eagle putt at the last which would have tied him with Jaidee, the Englishman having to settle for a share of second alongside Dutchman Joost Luiten, who carded a best-of-the-week 64.

Suffering a toe injury after stubbing it on the bathroom floor the previous evening, and struggling from the tee, Fisher was unable to replicate the fluency that helped him to a 66 on Friday.

But the 31 year old, who made his Ryder Cup debut at this venue two years ago, managed a third round 71 and will go into the final day only one shot behind.

"There were a few expletives and it was extremely painful," he said of his mishap. "I couldn't put any weight on it and half-contemplated playing in trainers.

"One of the toes is as purple as anything. I iced it and two of the toes were strapped together, but I hit it everywhere and I'm glad to finish."

Like Fisher, 42 year old paratrooper Jaidee birdied the par five last after an incredible drive measured at 410 yards.

"I think 320 is the longest for me, so when we got to the top of the hill I asked 'where's the ball?' and a marshall told me," he said.

"I thought it was 390, but 410 sounds better." He only needed a seven iron second to the 575 yard hole, pushed it into a bunker, but made a 12 footer for the outright lead.

Fisher has dropped 130 places in the Official World Golf Ranking since helping Colin Montgomerie’s European Team to victory.

"It would mean a lot to win. I set very high standards and I reached 17th in the world, so I know I have the game,” he added.

"Given where I hit it that's one of the best level par rounds I've ever had. I hung in there and dug deep.

"The 63 I had at the European Open (an event he won by seven shots at The London Club in 2008) was good, but today was impressive."

Luiten started the day in a tie for 20th and was even deeper in the pack after a bogey on the fifth.

But birdies at the next two sparked a recovery and by the time he sank a 25 foot putt for an eagle two at the driveable 15th he was out in front.

After two-putting the last for his sixth birdie he said: "It hasn't been a great season, but it's a course that if you play well you can shoot a decent score."

He was only one off his lowest European Tour round and that one set him up for his only victory in Indonesia late last season.

His compatriot Tim Sluiter lies in solo fourth after a 68, with Carlos Del Moral and Marcel Siem tied for fifth on four under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JAIDEE, ThongchaiTHA18-6
T2FDEZ-CASTAÑO, GonzaloESP18-5
T2STERNE, RichardRSA18-5
T2BJÖRN, ThomasDEN18-5
T2LUITEN, JoostNED18-5
T6MCGINLEY, PaulIRL18-4
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