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October 14, 2018

Namchok leads Thailand’s dominance in UMA-CNS Open


October 14, 2018

KARACHI: It was a day that Muhammad Munir might rue for a long time. It was a day when he couldn’t sink a two-footer. It was a day when he all but blew his chances in Pakistan’s biggest golfing event in 11 years.

The former Pakistan No. 1 missed a series of birdies from within 5-8 feet to sign for a par round on the third day of the UMA-CNS Open Asian Tour Golf Championship here at the Karachi Golf Club on Saturday.

On a day when a pack of Thai golfers exhibited a near complete dominance with Namchok Tantipokhakul going one shot clear of the field with an aggregate of -12, Munir was just left with an outside chance in the final round as he was six shots off the pace.

“I couldn’t putt today,” he told ‘The News’ soon after finishing his third round (72) that followed cards of 69, 60 on the first two days. “The greens were a bit slow and I was falling short. I even missed a two-footer but that was probably because I was in a hurry to finish it.”

Munir, who gave the thumbs up to the KGC course, is tied-sixth with Thailand’s Settee Prakongvech (69). His chances of winning the title look bleak but Munir remained buoyed up.

“I still believe I have a chance and will go all out tomorrow. I’m just praying my putting is better in the final round,” he said.

One shot behind Munir was another Pakistani Muhammad Naeem, who catapulted himself within striking distance of a top-ten finish with an impressive 68.

Pakistan No. 1 Shabbir Iqbal was just behind him after carding 71. He was tied with three other pros including compatriot Matloob Ahmed.

Meanwhile, Namchok looked in a prime form to win his maiden Asian Tour title after carding a five-under-par 67.

After a lukewarm start, Namchok, who came closest to winning an Asian Tour title at the 2010 Black Mountain Masters, where he finished second, turned on the afterburners on his inward nine as he made an eagle at the 11th followed by three consecutive birdies before signing for a 12-under-par 204 total.

“The highlights of my round happened on my back nine for sure. On 11th, I drove to the left of the fairway followed by a lucky hybrid shot that landed within a few feet of the hole. On the 12th and 13th, I sunk birdies from quite a distance on the green. Finally on 14th, I hit a nice approach and putted in from about three to four feet,” he said.

“For sure, getting those good holes in felt really good. I’m going to play using the same strategy tomorrow as it has worked for me so far, which is to focus on finding the greens. I have continued to miss the fairways in the third round, but if I can find the greens then it’ll be alright.”

Thailand’s Jakraphan Premsirigorn is in lone second place after signing for a 68. He traded five birdies against a lone bogey on the challenging par-four ninth. The Qualifying School graduate feels that he has fully recovered from a wrist injury that has inhibited his progress this year and he’ll be aiming to win this US$300,000 event.

“I am feeling really excited going into tomorrow’s round. Nobody knows what will happen, but for sure, I’ll focus on playing my game and hope that things will go my way,” he said.

Like Namchok, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit of Thailand seized his chances on his back nine. He made four consecutive birdies from holes 11 to 14 which elevated his confidence immensely. He made another birdie on 18th and eventually carded a 67 to finish the day in third place.

Pawin Inghapradit and Suradit Yongcharoenchai carded 71 and 72 respectively to grab a share of fourth place, consolidating Thailand’s dominance at the UMA CNS Open.

Scores after round 3 of the UMA CNS Open Golf Championship being played at the par 72, 7032 Yards Karachi GC course (am - denotes amateur):

204 - Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA) 67-70-67.

205 - Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA) 69-68-68.

207 - Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 71-69-67.

209 - Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 68-70-71, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 69-68-72.

210 - Settee Prakongvech (THA) 72-69-69, M Munir (PAK) 69-69-72.

211 - M Naeem (PAK) 71-72-68, James Ryan LAM (PHI) 68-73-70, Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA) 71-70-70, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 71-70-70, Mitchell Slorach (SIN) 72-69-70.

212 - Paul Harris (USA) 73-72-67, Matt Killen (ENG) 70-74-68, Matloob Ahmed (PAK) 72-70-70, M Shabbir (PAK) 68-73-71.

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