Kuala Lumpur, April 14: An exciting finish is on the cards as Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen edged into a one-shot lead following the weather-disrupted third round of the US$2.5 million Maybank Malaysian Open.
The South African star moved to 13-under-par at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s West Course through 10 holes of his third round, before play was suspended due to a lightning storm in the late evening.
One shot behind was Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, who negotiated 12 holes of his third round in three-under-par, followed by Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain, England’s Danny Willet and American David Lipsky, all on 10-under in the Asian Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned event.
India’s Jyoti Randhawa, the Asian Tour’s number one in 2002, was the highest placed Asian in a share of sixth place, four behind the leader as he played 13 holes in three-under-par. His compatriot Jeev Milkha Singh was a further shot back through 13 holes as well.
The 29-year-old Oosthuizen returned to the West Course early this morning to fire two birdies in six holes to seize the second round lead. He then kept his nose ahead of the chasing pack with another masterful display in the afternoon’s third round with birdies on the fourth, fifth, ninth and 10th holes against a bogey on six.
“I feel good now. I am playing well and just have to keep giving myself chances,” said Oosthuizen, who is chasing his fifth European Tour victory and first in Asia.
“My swing feels really good and when you are playing like this, you really want to get a win because it just boosts the confidence and it is a good time of the year to do that.”
The third round will resume at 7.45am on Sunday with the fourth and final round to commence from 8.30am with players remaining in the same groupings.
Gallacher made three birdies in his first five holes and was glad to be in the hunt. “Obviously it will be tough because Louis is in great form. We all saw what he did last week and how well he played but if I can stick to my own game and keep doing what I am doing, then I will have a good chance,” said the 37-year-old Scot, who has won one title on the European Tour way back in 2004.
The in-form Lipsky kept in touch with the leader following birdies on the second, fifth and seventh holes as he managed to play 11 holes before play was halted.
“The last six holes are all birdie holes so I hope to convert some there. I’m definitely excited to be up on the leaderboard. I’m looking forward to making birdies and climbing up and hopefully compete,” said Lipsky.
Randhawa, who made six birdies in 13 holes but dropped three shots along the way, was excited about the prospect of ending his title drought. “It’s been a while, about a year and half since I’ve been in contention in a big event. I guess nerves play a bit, but I was surprised how calm I was and how relaxed I was,” said Randhawa, who has won eight Asian Tour titles with the last coming in 2009.
Singh, a two-time Asian Tour number one, stayed on the fringe of contention and did not rule himself out. “I’m hitting the ball well. It’ll all come down to hitting a few putts tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty good. Let’s see what comes my way,” said Singh, who has six Asian Tour wins.
The only Malaysian to make the halfway cut, Shaaban Hussin, shot a third round 75 and is in 61st place on one-over-par. “I hope to play well tomorrow and move up into the top 30. If I can shoot five or six-under, I should be okay,” said the slender Malaysian.
-13: Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) through 10 holes
-12: Stephen GALLACHER (SCO) (11 holes)
-10: Rafael CABRERA-BELLO (ESP) (13 holes), Danny WILLETT (ENG) (12 holes), David LIPSKY (USA) (11 holes)
-9: Ricardo GONZALEZ (ARG) (13 holes), Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) (13 holes), Hennie OTTO (RSA) (10 holes)
-8: Simon DYSON (ENG) (13 holes), Ben FOX (USA) (13 holes), Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) (13 holes)