Hua Hin, Thailand, January 18: Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung seized the lead from home favourite Pro Meesawat of Thailand with a battling third round two-under-par 70 at the King’s Cup Golf Hua Hin on Saturday.
Mo, a veteran on the Asian Tour, overcame swirling wind speeds of 36 kph to put himself in position to win a long-awaited third title since his victory in Thailand in 2008.
The Korean stood tall amidst the gusty conditions to mark his card with six birdies and four bogeys for a three-day total of nine-under-par 207 at the Black Mountain Golf Club.
The flamboyant Angelo Que of the Philippines, a three-time Asian Tour winner, posted the day’s lowest score after firing a 67 to take a share of second place alongside Prom, who returned with a 72, at the US$1 million event.
Black Mountain sponsored player Rikard Karlberg of Sweden struggled to a 74 to sit in tied fifth position, three shots from the leader Mo, and he will need a sparkling final round to win his third Asian Tour title in front of a huge Scandinavian crowd.
Three bogeys in his first five holes gave no indication that Mo would be able to make his charge towards the top. However, two birdies on the sixth and eight holes changed that equation as players were blown off course.
“At the start, I didn’t expect the winds to be so strong. I knew it would be strong but didn’t expect it to be that strong. I managed to figure out how to combat the winds and I played pretty well coming down the stretch,” sad Mo.
The 42-year-old, who had credited a disciplined fitness regime for helping him keep pace with his younger rivals, then asserted his authority with another birdie on the 13.
He dropped another shot on the par-four 15th but would storm back to the summit by closing with three birdies starting from the 16th hole.
“I’m still feeling fine after 54 holes,” said Mo of his fitness level.
“I’ve won before and I know what it’s like to be in the final round and playing the game of your life for the last 18 holes. I just got to do what I’ve got to do which is to play each hole at a time and give myself lots of chances,” added the two-time Asian Tour winner.
Known for his stylish dressing, Que also gave a lesson on how to tame the winds when he made his comeback after a disappointing second round 75.
“The winds were the strongest that I’ve experienced the whole week. Through my experience of playing on the Asian Tour, you need to know how to play in different conditions.
I’ve played in the British Open and the wind was strong and it was colder. Back home, I play on a course with similar wind conditions. You never know when you might have to play in a typhoon or calm weather conditions,” said Que.
The affable Filipino, who is feeling excited with the impending arrival of his second child in May, was equally delighted with his round where he traded seven birdies against two bogeys.
“I just feel happy I can shoot five-under under these conditions. I’m not surprised, but just happy. I’m not going to think about the win. I just want to go out and have fun,” said Que.
Meanwhile Prom remains confident of ending his wait for his second Asian Tour win despite losing his share of the lead for the first time this week.
“It is still a very good position to be in as anything can happen. The door is still open for many players like myself, Angelo Que and Chapchai (Nirat),” said Prom.
“I just want to play against the golf course and stick to my game plan. It is going to be very special if a Thai player can win this tournament as that will give them something to cheer about,” he added.