Thai pair climb the leaderboard in Singapore
Recording nine birdies between them, Thailand's Tirawat Kaewsiribandit and 17-year-old Phachara Khongwatmai shot to the top of the leaderboard on Saturday – and put themselves in contention to earn a place at The 146th Open.
Four players, who finish in the top 12 and ties at the SMBC Singapore Open who are not already exempt, will book a spot at Royal Birkdale from 16-23 July.
World number 745 Kaewsiribandit, whose best performance to date came on the Asian Development Tour as a runner up in the 2014 PGM MNRB Sarawak Championship, carded a 66, including an eagle at the third hole, four birdies and a single bogey.
Khongwatmai played beyond his years to produce five birdies and a bogey at Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course for a 67. The teenage sensation, who became the youngest winner of a professional tournament after his victory at the Sing Hu Hin Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour aged just 14, played in The Open at Royal Troon last July. After earning an exemption through his sixth place finish at The Open Qualifying Series event in Thailand in November 2015, Khongwatmai will be looking to repeat history tomorrow.
The Thai golfers sit alongside Adam Scott, already exempt for the Open, and American Seungsu Han, who continued his own challenge, at the top on eight-under-par.
Inclement weather forced a rain delay that lasted three and half hours, leaving fairways and greens empty from 2 till 5.30pm – a feature that has disrupted each day so far. With play abandoned at 7.05pm due to fading light, just under half the field will return tomorrow morning at 7.30am to finish the third round.
Kaewsiribandit and Khongwatmai will both be able to relax tonight having been fortunate enough to complete their day’s work on Saturday.
Following his late charge on Friday that saw him storm past three-time former champions Adam Scott to lead the field at nine-under-par, Han could afford to deliver a less impressive round and still finish the day in the mix with the leaders.
Han, who was forced to end his round at one-over-par with five holes to play, is still in with a real chance of a maiden victory and a place in The Open. The 30-year-old’s tied-fourth finish at the Casino World Open on The Japan Tour is his best career performance to date. He will now go into Sunday with it all to play for.
Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira put himself back in contention to qualify for The Open after finishing tied for second place alongside already exempt countryman Hideto Tanihari at seven-under-par. Kodaira, who plays his golf predominantly on the Japan Golf Tour, is two-under for the day with four holes to play on Sunday morning.