09 November 2018

Varanyu Clings On To Lead At Combiphar Players Championship

Bali, Indonesia, November 8: Thailand’s Varanyu Rattanaphiboonkij continued to hold on to his lead after carding a third round three-under-par 69 at the US$100,000 Combiphar Players Championship on Thursday.

Varanyu, who had held the lead since the opening round, put himself in position to become the first player to win twice on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) this season after maintaining his one-shot edge over Janne Kaske of Finland at the New Kuta Golf in Bali.

The 21-year-old Thai fired four birdies against a bogey to cap a three-day total of 13-under-par 203 while Kaske, a two-time ADT winner, birdied the par-five 18th hole for the third straight day to match Varanyu’s efforts of the day with a 69 and take second place on his own.

Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon and Shariffuddin Ariffin of Malaysia posted identical 68s to trail by six shots in third place alongside American Josh Salah, who signed for a 69. Justin De Los Santos, also of the United States, carded a 70 to take sixth place on 210.

Varanyu, who had led from start to finish to claim his breakthrough ADT win earlier in May, is feeling upbeat about his chances of capping another wire-to-wire win on the secondary circuit, which was inaugurated in 2010 as a gateway to the premier Asian Tour.

“I felt a little bit of pressure today but I stayed patient and told myself to just my game. I did well although I am still struggling with my putter. I had hit it close for all my birdies today. I am going to stick to the same game plan again tomorrow.

“Nothing changes. The wind is going to stay like that again tomorrow. I am excited and looking forward to the final round,” said Varanyu, who had claimed his maiden win on his home course in Phuket in what is his first start on the ADT this season.

Placed 20th on the ADT Order of Merit with a current haul of US$15,923 thanks to a victory and a top-five finish, Varanyu will need at least a runner-up finish to have a chance of breaking into top-seven on the Merit rankings to secure his Asian Tour card for 2019.

Kaske, who returned to complete his second round in the morning where he signed for a solid 64, continued his fine form by opening with two straight birdies. He dropped a shot on the fourth but bounced back with two birdies on ninth and 11th before his bogey-birdie finish.

Placed 15th on the money list, Kaske needs a top-five finish to have a mathematical chance of breaking into top-seven to secure his playing rights on the Asian Tour next season.

A total of 49 players returned on Thursday morning to complete their round after play was disrupted by a lengthy rain suspension on Wednesday. A total of 54 players made the halfway cut set at two-over-par 146.

Being the penultimate event of the 2018 ADT schedule, the Combiphar Players Championship is crucial in the race for the Order of Merit title, as well as the seven coveted 2019 Asian Tour cards on offer.

All ADT events offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. The winner will receive six OWGR points while the top six players and ties will also earn points based on a sliding scale.

Leading third round scores:

203 - Varanyu Rattanaphiboonkij (THA) 67 67 69

204 - Janne Kaske (FIN) 71 64 69

209 - Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (THA) 71 70 68, Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS) 71 70 68, Josh Salah (USA) 72 68 69

210 - Justin De Los Santos (USA) 73 67 70

211 - Jesse Yap (SGP) 71 71 69, Blake Snyder (USA) 69 72 70, Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 72 73 66, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 70 69 72

212 - John Michael O'Toole (USA) 72 70 70, Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 71 69 72, Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA) 73 67 72

213 - Yutaka Araki (JPN) 71 71 71, Han Lee (USA) 74 70 69, Jaturon Duangphaichoom (THA) 70 74 69, Nirun Sae-Ueng (THA) 71 74 68, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 71 70 72, Steve Lewton (ENG) 76 69 68, Kazuki Higa (JPN) 69 71 73, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 71 69 73, Gregory Foo (SGP) 70 68 75

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