Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blyth renews love with Open

Kuala Lumpur, February 14: Australian Adam Blyth renewed his love affair with the Maybank Malaysian Open when he snatched a one-shot lead after the third round on Saturday.

The talented Australian, who finished tied 14th in his professional debut at Malaysia's flagship event in 2005, produced a superb six-under-par 66 to lead from Chinese star Liang Wen-chong, who carded a 67 and Sweden's Alexander Noren who returned a 69.

The final round promises to be a thriller with a jam-packed leaderboard at Saujana Golf and Country Club. Thai star Prayad Marksaeng (65), American Anthony Kang (64) and England's Miles Tunnicliff (63) are two shots off the pace while overnight leader Danny Chia of Malaysia was a further stroke behind after a 74 to lie alongside India's Shiv Kapur, who shot a 66.

Blyth has fond memories of Malaysia and on Valentine's Day, he produced a magnificent display to flirt once more with a first career victory at the US$2 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

"It would mean a lot. My first pro event was here and I finished well so it was a good start to my career. It would mean the world if I can win any tournament, but here will be great. But it's a long way away and we don't want to get ahead of ourselves," said the 27-year-old Asian Tour regular, who holds the lead on 14-under-par 202.

With his father Stephen on his bag, Blyth has registered 11 career top-10s in the region over the past four years and knows the door that leads to a career breakthrough must open sooner or later.

"I think what I've been doing this week is staying in my game, staying in my process and staying in my routine. I usually get ahead of myself thinking that I can win. If I can stay in the process and give it my best, we'll see what happens. I can't control what the other guys do," said Blyth, who knocked in an eagle, six birdies against two bogeys.

Liang, Asia's number one in 2007, has the pedigree to deny Blyth. The Chinese enjoyed a terrific finish with two closing birdies to sneak behind the new tournament leader on a sun-baked day.

"I was steady off the tee and my putting was also very good. I will try my best and hope to secure a good result. In golf, anything can happen. But I feel relaxed and calm and will head out with a similar approach in the final day," said Liang, who is chasing a third career win.

Noren holed an audacious 30-foot birdie putt at the last hole which kept him in Sunday's final group. "It was good - it actually felt a lot longer than it was because it was uphill and against the grain. I actually thought to myself 'if I smash it, it might get there' so I gave it everything and it was nice to see it dropping," said the Swede.

Smooth-swinging Thai Prayad enjoyed a grandstand finish with a chip-in eagle and birdie in his last two holes which left him two back. "I had 30 yards to the pin on 17 and hit a wedge that rolled in. It was lucky. On 18, I rolled in a nine footer and it was good to get that closer to the lead," said the Thai.

Currently ranked 59th in the world, Prayad knows that a seventh Asian Tour title could take him into the top-50 and earn him a second trip back to the US Masters in April.

"It would be great if I can do it. I'm really keen to get my way back to the Masters (by being in the top-50 at the end of March) and it would also be good for my confidence as I'll be heading to America for two World Golf Championships events next month," he said.

Chia staggered off the 18th green with a two-over round but he was delighted to still be in the hunt. Last year, he also led after the second day but crashed out with an 80.

"When I first headed out, I told myself to take whatever happens out there. I told myself to play my best and not get too far behind the leaders," said Chia, who is bidding to become the first Malaysian to win the tournament.

"Last year I finished the entire event on the third day. So it's nice that I'm still in with a chance. I will be trying very hard again tomorrow."

Leading third round scores
202 - Adam Blyth (AUS) 66-70-66
203 - Liang Wen-Chong (CHN) 65-71-67, Alexander Noren (SWE) 63-71-69
204 - Miles Tunnicliff (ENG) 71-70-63, Anthony Kang (USA) 74-66-64, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 69-70-65
205 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-69-66, Danny Chia (MAS) 66-65-74
206 - Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 71-69-66, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 62-73-71
207 - Peter Lawrie (IRL) 72-68-67, Gareth Maybin (NIR) 69-69-69, Simon Griffiths (ENG) 70-66-71
208 - Johan Edfors (SWE) 69-71-68, David Horsey (ENG) 71-68-69, Stephen Leaney (AUS) 70-69-69, Scott Barr (AUS) 71-67-70, Phillip Archer (ENG) 69-69-70, Nick Dougherty (ENG) 66-70-72.