Kuala Lumpur, Oct 31 (IANS) Four birdies in the final five holes propped up Anirban Lahiri to five-over 67 in the third and penultimate round as the leading Indian golfer jumped five places to be tied 16th in the $7 million CIMB Classic here on Saturday. The Asian tour leader made birdies on the third, fifth, seventh, 10th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes against bogeys on the fourth, 12th and 17th for a 67. It took his three-day total to 12-under-204 (70-67-67). World No.37 Lahiri trails co-leaders Justin Thomas and Brenda Steele by eight shots at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s West course.
The 28-year-old Bengalurean was happy with the flurry of birdies but rued the bogeys. “I’ve been playing good, but I haven’t made birdies in bunches. It’s just been bogey-free or one bogey and three, four or five birdies. But it was nice to make eight birdies today. You have to be in a birdie mood on this golf course, otherwise you’re not going to catch anyone,” Lahiri said in a release. “I’m going to have to make as many or more birdies tomorrow and try and keep a clean card,” added the Indian, a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour and playing this week as a Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Tour member as well. Lahiri is hopeful he can improve on his tied 16th position with a final round push. “I would have liked to be in a better position but having started weak (with a 70), I think this is not a bad place to be. I feel like I’m playing well so hopefully I can get a really deep round. My energy level is surprisingly good,” he said. The other Indian in the fray, S.S.P. Chawrasia, was 74th following a two-over 74 that gave the Kolkatan a 54-hole total of four-over 220.
Meanwhile, American Steele fought into a share of the third-round lead with Thomas following a birdie slugfest. Steele, chasing a second PGA Tour victory, produced a blemish free 66 to earn the 54-hole lead with halfway leader Thomas, who birdied his closing two holes for a 67. American Kevin Na, the Asian Tour’s Rookie of the Year in 2002 and now firmly established on the PGA Tour, launched himself into the title mix for a third straight week with a nine-birdie round of 64 that left him one shot behind the co-leaders. Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama shot a 68 to lie joint fourth with James Hahn (64), Brian Harman (66) and Spencer Levin (68) in the event, which is jointly sanctioned by the PGA Tour and Asian Tour.