Kim played alongside two-time winner on the European Senior Tour this year and joint overnight leader Thelen, and the American just could not keep up with his Asian counter-part from the get-go at the Taipei venue in Taiwan.Kim birdied all but three holes in an exceptional front nine as he reached the turn in 30 shots, but proceeded to card his first back to back pars at the tenth and 11th holes.
That would not last for long, however, and he embarked on a run of four birdies in five holes from the 12th hole, although the odd one out at the par four 13th proved to be his first bogey of the week.A par at the par three 17th hole ended that streak and when the 51 year old knocked a chip to four feet at the par five 18th, it looked for all the world that he would sign for a ten under par 62 which would have given him a four shot cushion going into the final day.
Instead, he has the in-form Thelen close on his trail just three shots off his overall score of 14 under par as they both attempt to follow in the footsteps of Chien Soon Lu, the winner of the inaugural Fubon Senior Open last year.“I am really happy with my round today,” said Kim. “My irons were really good today and my putting was perfect so I am looking forward now to the final round.”
Thelen, for one, was thoroughly impressed by the performance of his playing partner and is relishing the challenge of trying to chase Kim’s lead in what it sure to be a tense battle in the final round in the Taiwanese capital.“Kim shot a 63 today like it was nothing,” said the 51 year old. “He had a great round and I really have to go out there and play well tomorrow.
“I am going to have to be a little more aggressive in the final round but that might all depend on where the pins are and how the weather is because although I want to go for it, I have to be sensible too.”Thelen followed up his opening round 66 with a five under par second round of 67 which included birdies at three of the four par fives - the sixth, 12th and 18th - and he had his game on the greens to thank for his round.
“I didn’t hit my irons as well as I did on the first day,” said the man from Texas. “I drove it well though and I putted well and when you’re putting good it makes up for a lot of other things and it maintains your momentum.“Kim didn’t miss a shot today and it was fun to watch and I just had to try to keep up with him. He hit a great shot into 18 and at that point I was looking at going into the final round four shots back.
“But I’m still there and I can still make a push and there are plenty of other guys not far behind who will fancy their chances of catching up too so it should be an exciting day.”Frankie Minoza is one of those players in with a shot after he carded an eagle and eight birdies in an eight under par round of 64, which left the man from the Philippines on eight under for the tournament and six shots off the lead.
Thailand’s former Senior Tour Order of Merit winner Boonchu Ruangkit was joined by compatriot Ji-xiang Lin and South Africa’s Chris Williams in tied fourth place on seven under par while the best of the Taiwanese was Ter-chang Wang, who was in tied ninth place in five under.Defending champion Lu was two shots further back on three under par as his chances of retaining the title he claimed last year faded.