South Korea’s Jin Jeong, who at Muirfield in 2010 became the first Asian golfer to win the Amateur Championship, overcame an eight shot deficit to move into a share of the lead with Norway’s Knut Borsheim heading into the final round of the Mugello Tuscany Open.
Jeong shot an eight under par 63 to the Borsheim’s 71 at the UNA Poggio dei Medici Golf Club near Florence, Italy, to lead the field on 15 under par. England’s Lloyd Kennedy birdied the last for a 66 to lie third, three shots back.
Jeong won the Amateur Championship over the famous East Lothian links three years ago before going on to win the Silver Medal as leading amateur in The Open at St Andrews where he finished tied 14th. Inspired by the memories of his Muirfield victory as he watches this week’s Open Championship unfold from afar, Jeong tore through the field with an eagles and seven birdies in Italy.
Playing only his second Challenge Tour event of the season after missing out on a European Tour card through last year’s Qualifying School, the Melbourne-based 23 year old’s bogey on the first acted as a “wake-up call”.
From there he didn’t put a foot wrong, eagling the third from ten feet after finding the heart of the green on the 536 yard par five with a five wood. Three more birdies followed in a front nine of 31 before another four birdies, including two to finish, brought him home in 32.
That looked good enough to take the lead until Borsheim holed a 50 foot eagle putt on the final green to join him on 15 under par.
“It worked pretty well today,” said Jeong, who needed only 22 putts. “I saw after nine holes I had closed the gap and knew if I could keep it going I would be close to the lead.
“It could be an important day for me tomorrow to try and secure more starts and hopefully I won’t drop my concentration and you never know.”
Borsheim led from the outset after following his opening 62 with a 65 for the lowest 36 hole total of the season but his three shot lead on the field disappeared when he lost a ball on the fourth en route to a double bogey six and then dropped two more shots over the next two holes. But the 26 year old regrouped on the back nine, picking up two birdies and his spectacular eagle on last to be round in level par.
“I was pretty solid other than those three holes where I ran into trouble,” he said. “The are tough holes and you have to hit the fairway. I just need to try and get it going as I did for the first two days.”
Borsheim grew up playing amateur golf with last year’s Challenge Tour Number One Espen Kofstad and that will no doubt help him in his quest to follow him onto The European Tour. “It’s nice to see Espen do well, and it gives you the feeling you can do well too.”