Khon Kaen, Thailand, March 26: Thanyakon Khronpha took control of the Singha Esan Open today after shooting a five-under-par 67 to lead on 10-under after three rounds.
He holds at one shot lead over countryman Phachara Khongwatmai, also in with a 67, at Singha Park Golf Club.
Thailand’s Somchai Pongpaew is in third place one stroke further back after returning a 73.
The wheels came off for Chapchai Nirat from Thailand, the leader after the first and second rounds, after he shot a 75 to slip back to fourth on seven under.
The US$100,000 event is the opening event on the 2016 ASEAN PGA Tour.
Thanyakon has won twice before on the ASEAN PGA Tour but not since 2011. He won the Kariza Indonesia Championship in 2010 and the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Championship the following season.
He did not drop a shot today and fired three birdies on the front side and two on the back.
Hot on his heels is Phachara best known for becoming the youngest winner of a professional tournament when he won the Singha Hua Hin Open on the ASEAN PGA Tour in July 2013 at the age of 14. He was an amateur at the time and has since won several times as a professional.
A five-under-par back nine with birdies on 10, 12, 14, 15 and 18 saw him move into contention.
Chapchai fell off the pace after going three over on the homeward stretch.
Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, the defending champion, carded a 70 and is two under for the tournament.
Australian Anthony Murdaca returned a 70 to lead the way for the graduates from the recent OneAsia Qualifying School at even par for the event.
This year’s event is of special significance as it welcomes the graduates as part of a new association with OneAsia and the four ASEAN PGA events in Thailand.
The Singha Esan Open is one of four tournaments jointly sanctioned by the ASEAN PGA Tour with the All Thailand Golf Tour. The others are the Singha Hua Hin Open, Singha Pattaya Open and Singha Phuket Open.