England’s Lee Westwood will take a slender one-shot lead over unheralded compatriot Andy Sullivan into the final round of the US$2.75 million Maybank Malaysian Open.
Westwood, the 1997 champion who is back in Malaysia after a seven-year absence, battled to a third round 71 in sweltering conditions yesterday for a total of 14-under-par 202. Former Walker Cup star Sullivan meanwhile carded a superb 66 at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s magnificent West Course to trail by just one shot back with 18 holes to go.
Frenchman Julien Quesne fired a 69 to lie four off the pace in third place, while Ryder Cup star Nicholas Colsaerts of Belgium settled for a 72 to trail a further shot back.
Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura was the best placed Asian in tied fifth position following a 70, six shots behind Westwood who has led since the opening round. Filipino Antonio Lascuna, playing in the last group with Westwood, shot a disappointing 77 to drop to tied 23rd position.
Westwood dropped a bogey at the finishing hole as he battled hard to hold on to his overnight lead to stay in the hunt to end a two-year title drought which dates back to the 2012 Nordea Masters in Sweden.
“It was really hot. That’s as hot as I’ve been on a golf course for quite some time. It was a real grind. I was leaking out there a little bit. You can get glazed up and lose your concentration quite easily. But I’m leading going into the last round so I’m quite happy with that,” said Westwood, who has won 12 times in the region.
“It will be hot again so I’ll have to try to keep control of my swing, the ball and my emotions. It is easy to get wound up when it is as hot and humid as this,” added the Englishman, who turns 41 next week.
Sullivan, 27, was delighted to set up a final day shootout against Westwood, whom he idolises. The young Englishman made a big move highlighted by three straight birdies from the fifth hole after dropping his only shot on four.
“I felt myself getting a bit tired coming up on 15 and 16. I had a couple of sloppy swings in there but I didn’t drop any shots. I holed a good putt on 16 to keep the momentum going. It was tough out there to keep your concentration but I’m glad my adrenaline kept me going,” he said.
Title holder Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand had to withdraw before the start of the third round due to tonsillitis.
Leading Round 3 Scores:
202 – Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 65-66-71.
203 – Andy SULLIVAN (ENG) 70-67-66.
206 – Julien QUESNE (FRA) 68-69-69.
207 – Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 66-69-72.
208 – Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 72-69-67, Garth MULROY (RSA) 71-68-69, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 68-70-70, Ricardo SANTOS (POR) 67-71-70, Eduardo DE LA RIVA (ESP) 69-68-71, Danny WILLETT (ENG) 70-66-72.
209 – Tom LEWIS (ENG) 70-71-68, Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) 72-68-69, Scott JAMIESON (SCO) 68-71-70.
210 – Matteo MANASSERO (ITA) 71-72-67, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 70-71-69, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 72-72-66, Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 69-71-70.
211 – Richard BLAND (ENG) 73-69-69, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 75-67-69, Thomas PIETERS (BEL) 75-67-69, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 69-72-70, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 68-71-72.