Golf: Rattanon shrugs off nerves to maintain lead at S’pore International

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SINGAPORE – After a shaky start to the third round of the Singapore International on Saturday (Jan 15), Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan overcame nerves to maintain his lead in the US$1 million (S$1.35 million) competition on four-under 212.

While the 26-year-old had cruised to a six-under 66 at the Tanah Merah Country Club the day before, things were not smooth sailing for him on Saturday.

He bogeyed thrice in the opening 11 holes, but salvaged the round with two birdies to return a one-over 73, which was enough to see him remain at the top of the leaderboard going into the final day of the competition.

The Thai now sits two strokes ahead of second-placed Kim Joo-hyung from South Korea and three in front of India’s Chikkarangappa S., giving him a decent shot at capturing his second Asian Tour title

Rattanon, who won the 2017 Thailand Open, said: “I was really nervous in the beginning, but I calmed myself down by singing a Thai song in my mind and by talking to my caddie.

“As I keep saying, the course is so hard, everyone feels like that. But it is a good experience for me. I just have to take it shot by shot tomorrow.”

While Rattanon struggled to find his form on Saturday, Kim fired a three-under 69, the joint-lowest round of the day.

The 19-year-old credited his good performance this time to the extra practice he had the day before, after he carded a 73 in the second round.

Kim, who is third on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, said: “When you tee off in the morning, you want to go back to the hotel room and take a break, but I felt like I needed to do some work and it definitely paid off.

“Hopefully I’ll get some work in today and play well tomorrow.”

The 2019 Panasonic Open winner added that staying patient was also key to helping him hit a low score on Saturday, saying: “I’ve been patient all week. That front nine, I felt like I could have gone out just a little bit better.

“But for some reason that back nine I felt energised, I felt really patient, I felt like I was going to really score well.”

Last year’s Order of Merit champion Jazz Janewattananond carded a 76 and is joint 10th, eight strokes behind Rattanon.

Wade Ormsby, the current leader of the Merit list, also shot a 76 and is tied-19th.

Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan is tied-14th on a five-over 221 total after he shot a 71 on Saturday.

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