Alken leads at Avantha Masters, Bhullar best Indian

liang wen-chong set to take a lead at avantha mastersGreater Noida, India: China’s Liang Wen-chong believes he is ready for the final push after he carded a third round three-under-par 69 to trail South African leader Thomas Aiken by three shots at the €1.8 million (approximately US$2.3 million) Avantha Masters on Saturday.
Aiken almost matched Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil’s first round heroics when he signed for a 62 to head into the final round with the sole possession of the lead.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat returned with a 66 to share third place with Scotland’s David Drysdale while two-time Asian Tour winner, Scott Hend of Australia signed for a 68 to take tied-fifth place alongside England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Finland’s Joonas Granberg.
Liang earned the distinction of being the first mainland Chinese to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2007 and with his last win on the Asian Tour coming from Indian soil in 2008, the Chinese is confident he can revive that winning feeling again.
“I’m just three shots back and I’m confident that the gap can be closed. The key is to stay patient. Anything can happen in golf and I only need to believe that I can do it,” said Liang, who also established a new low 18-hole score when he carded a 12-under-par 60 in the opening round of the Indian Open which he won in 2008.
The Chinese did not have the best of starts in his opening front-nine as he marked his card with three birdies against two bogeys.
Liang, however ensured his back-nine would be a flawless one when he carded birdies on holes 12 and 15 to take second place.
“I was struggling a little on my front-nine. I missed a short putt on the sixth hole and got a bogey there. That affected me a little but I was able to regain my focus when I started my back-nine,” said Liang.
Meanwhile Aiken produced the performance of the day when he carded eight birdies and an eagle to head atop the leaderboard with his three-day total of 18-under-par 198.
“I concentrated very hard to play one shot at a time and it seemed to work. It just shows what can happen,” said Aiken.
Aiken, who has won once on the European Tour, is hopeful he can continue to capitalise on his lead and turn it into victory on Sunday.
“I’ve been playing very well the last four months and just haven’t converted opportunities. Fortunately this week I’ve converted a lot of the opportunities that I’ve had. The majority of them have gone in from inside ten feet and that’s what makes the difference from a scoring point of view,” said Aiken.
Starting the round four shots back of the leaders in tied-14th place, big-hitting Kiradech hauled himself back into contention for his second Asian Tour win
The 7,347 yards, par-72 Jaypee Greens Golf Course is rated as the longest course in India but it is one that big-hitting Kiradech is taking full advantage of.
“This course suits all the long-hitters like myself. But it can be difficult when you miss the fairway as the bunkers are very high and that’s going to be tough,” said Kiradech who averages 335 yards in driving distance.
The 23-year-old enjoyed a splendid run with an outward 30. He bogeyed the par-four 10th hole but responded with an eagle-three on the 12th hole before dropping another shot on the 17th hole.
“I had a solid start in my front-nine as I managed to sink all my putts. I struggled a bit on my back-nine as I missed a couple of putts and didn’t really tee off well,” said Kiradech.
“I wasn’t hoping to catch the leader by today I just tried to play my best game and didn’t want to give myself too much pressure. Hopefully I can have some luck to win tomorrow,” added the Thai.
Hend also believes his booming drives will provide him with the edge as he chases his third victory on the Asian Tour, which is celebrating its 10th season in 2013.
The Australian’s otherwise perfect card was marred by a double-bogey six on the 16th hole. Hend, however sounded an ominous warning that he is ready to win again.
“I played great, just one bad slip-up on the 16th which made it harder for tomorrow. I hit a horrendous tee shot and landed in the trees and from there I took five more,” said Hend.
“When you make a double-bogey on the third last hole of the day and someone posts an 18-under, it’s obviously not ideal. I’m going to come back strongly tomorrow and make 13 birdies and an eagle!” added the Australian
Leading scores after round 3 of the Avantha Masters being played at the par 72, 7347 Yards Jaypee Greens course (a- denotes amateur):
198 - Thomas AIKEN (RSA) 67-69-62.
201 - LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 66-66-69.
202 - Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 68-68-66, David DRYSDALE (SCO) 67-67-68.
203 - Scott HEND (AUS) 67-68-68, Joonas GRANBERG (FIN) 67-67-69, Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG) 69-65-69.
204 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 68-69-67, Julien QUESNE (FRA) 69-66-69, Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN) 67-68-69, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 66-66-72.
205 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 68-73-64, Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 70-70-65, David HOWELL (ENG) 68-72-65, Kristoffer BROBERG (SWE) 69-71-65, Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 67-69-69.
206 - KIM Gi-whan (KOR) 71-70-65, David HORSEY (ENG) 72-68-66, Magnus A CARLSSON (SWE) 66-73-67, Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) 69-68-69, BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 68-68-70, Maximilian KIEFFER (GER) 68-68-70.
Selected scores
207 - Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 68-69-70, Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 61-74-72.
211 - Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 70-71-70, Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 68-71-72