AMERICANS Chris Stroud and Ryan Moore claimed a slim one-stroke lead going into the final round of the CIMB
Classic at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, but hot on their heels is Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
Stroud returned four-under 68, while Moore had three-under 69 for combined totals of 12-under 204 for the joint-
But Kiradech and United States golfer Gary Woodland, who had three-under 69 and five-under 67 for a three-day
combined total of 11-under 205 are within striking distance for a big payout in the RM22 million rich tournament.
And it looks like its going to be anybody's title today, as Jerry Kelly of the United States is
alone at 10-under, while three other players are also a close nine-under.
The winner today will receive a handsome cheque of US$1.26 million, playing rights on the PGA Tour for
essentially the next three years, a place at the Masters Tournament next April plus a host of other invitations.
Moore was disappointed with a poor stretch on the back nine where he dropped four shots over five holes after
turning in 31.
“It was almost two different days out there. I really got going, really hot early, making a lot of putts and making a
lot of birdies. And then just kind of hit a pretty rough stretch there in the middle,” said Moore.
“I've obviously been playing some pretty good golf this week. It's been a little up and down these last couple
days, but I have enough positives that I've just got to kind of keep doing exactly what I'm doing.”
Stroud hit four birdies in a row from the fifth hole to launch himself into contention on a day when the leaders
came back into the field through dropped shots on the more challenging back nine on the West course.
“I really hung in there, gave myself a lot of good looks and I got on a good tear there. There's a lot of wedges, but
I'll tell you what, if you do not hit a fairway, you're going to struggle to make par, and that's really my focus,” he
Kiradech, the current Asian Tour number one, ended his game with an anxious wait at the end of his round to
review television footages of an incident at the 13th hole when his ball moved.
But after being cleared by the rules officials, the talented 24-year-old will now shoot for his biggest career victory
yet, and also his second title on the West course after winning the Malaysian Open here in March.
“I feel really pleased with the way I'm playing. It was a good start, three days in a row on the front nine, but
struggling a bit on the back. Three rounds, kind of mixed golf on the back nine. But I'm working on my putting a lot
from yesterday, and that helped. I’m happy with three under, and just a good chance which I'll try to catch up in the
final round,” said Kiradech, who made three birdies and an eagle in his opening 10 holes before dropping a double
bogey on 14.
“I’m just going to try to play my game, stick to my game plan and just play on my form,” said Kiradech. “I don't
want to look at the leaders too much, so if you look at the score, maybe the results are so tough to make the score.
Just try to focus, play and enjoy the final round.
“I don't want to put a lot of pressure to me. Like I said, I just want to play good golf, have fun.”
It wasn’t quite a fun finish when Kiradech was asked to review the incident on the 13th. He later explained: “I had
my mark on the ball, and I put the ball always in the centre. When I walked to the ball, I only looked at the pin. First
time I looked back at the ball, I could see my marker not being on the centre. Normally it is, and I'm sure my ball is
moving. I walk in and just walk out and called the rules (official), and I'm really sure that I haven't touched the club
before the ball moved. There was no penalty,” said Kiradech, who will play in the penultimate group in the final
Overnight leader Keegan Bradley struggled to a 76 to fall three shots off the pace while world number three Phil
Mickelson shot his week’s best round to date with a 68 to lie five behind the leaders alongside South Korea’s K.J. Choi in equal 11th place.