Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 22: Malaysia’s Leunkwang Kim had an ace to thank for lifting him to the top of the leaderboard with overnight leader Pannakorn Uthaipas of Thailand at the penultimate stage of the PGM MIDF ADT Championship on Friday.
Kim closed his round with an even-par 72 as his hole-in-one on the par-three eight and three birdies made up for his five bogeys at the Kota Seriemas Golf and Country Club.
Pannakorn meanwhile managed a 73 after trading three birdies against four bogeys as both carded a three-day total of 12-under-par 204.
Order of Merit leader Naoki Sekito sits just two shots off the pair with a 69, while Justin De Los Santos (70), Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (70), Gregory Foo (72) and Airil Zahari (73) are five shots away from the joint-leaders.
Kim, who led the first round was grateful for his 159-yard hole-in-one which proved to be the highlight of what he described as an ordinary round.
“I hit that on the soft eight, made a good line and was happy to see it go in. But overall I didn’t do too well, especially with the three bogeys at the end,” said Kim.
Kim started off with a bogey on the third hole, but recovered with a birdie on the fifth hole before his ace on eight.
He overcame his bogey on nine with consecutive birdies on 10 and 11, but three bogeys on 12, 16 and 18 derailed his chances for snatching the outright lead.
“I will stick to my game plan for the final round and hope to improve on my putting,” added Kim.
Overnight leader Pannakorn, who posted rounds of 66 and 65 in the first two days could not build on his lead.
He sank his first birdie on seven, but the back-nine proved his undoing as he committed four bogeys on 11, 15, 16 and 18. But thankfully for him, birdies on 10 and 17 kept him atop the leaderboard.
“I’m not too worried despite my round today. I am still in the lead,” said Pannakorn with a laugh.
“My putting was okay, but I will need to hit it better off the tee in the final round. Kim and I are good friends, so we will be talking a lot on the course tomorrow (Saturday),”added the Thai.
Both men are chasing a second title on the Asian Development Tour this year.
Pannakorn won in Malaysia in March, while Kim became the first Malaysian to win a title this year when he triumphed in September.