Taiwanese Sung Mao-Chang outduelled Thai Tawit Polthai and young compatriot Tseng Tzu Hao in the early going then fended off Hung Chien Yao’s hot charge to shoot a second straight 66 and pull away by five after three rounds of the TPGA Open at the Ching Chuan Kang Golf Club in Taichung, Taiwan yesterday.
Sung, who surged ahead by two over Polthai and Tseng after completion of 36-hole play marred by weather delay in the first round, threatened to pull away from the pack with a 33 start then kept his assault of the flat, tricky layout with superb shotmaking, iron play and putting to close out with another 33 and stay comfortably ahead at 201.
“I played very well, long game and irons were okay,” said Sung, who buried birdies from an average of five feet and buried his rivals deep with his 15-under aggregate.
“I’ll just play relaxed and in tempo tomorrow (today). Won’t think too much,” added the current No. 4 in the PGA of Taiwan (TPGA) Order of Merit rankings.
With a huge lead and good form, Sung won’t have to worry much about everything as Hung stumbled at the finish and settled for a 67 and a 206 after pulling within two with a birdie-eagle feat from No. 12.
Thai veteran WIsut Artjanawat also shot a 67 to move to solo third at 207 while Polthai failed to match Sung’s fiery start and settled for a 35 en route to a 71 and a 208 with compatriot Donlapatchai Niyomchon grabbing some of the spotlight as he aced the 229-yard No. 3 on his way to a 68 and a 209 for fifth.
It was Niyomchon’s fifth hole-in-one feat in a nine-year pro career and his latest ace netted him $1,000.
Tseng, impressive with an opening 66 who stayed within striking distance of Sung with a 71 Friday, cracked when the going got tough, groping for a 38 and limping with a 74 to tumble to joint 11th at 211, now 10 shots behind in the event where 24 of those who made the top 60 were from the PGT Asia, underscoring the level of play on the region’s emerging circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Jay Bayron, who barely made it to the weekend play with a 72-73, battled from way down at joint 48th to as high as 22nd with three birdies in pin-length distance at the back. But the lone Filipino entry failed to sustain his charge, overshooting No. 1 for his first bogey then dropping two shots on the short 335-yard par-4 No. 6 on a wayward drive and a poor chip shot.
He birdied the seventh from five feet to salvage a 72 and a 216 for joint 35th in the event serving as the third leg of TPGA and second stop of the third second of PGT Asia.
“I was doing very well at the back but made some mistakes on my approach shots at the front,” rued Bayron, who also flubbed makeable birdies chances in the last two holes.