Confident Smith wrests control with Thai Chapchai in hot pursuit

Confident Smith wrests control with Thai Chapchai in hot pursuit

Eyes on the prize: Travis Smyth plays a shot during the third round. ASIAN TOUR
Eyes on the prize: Travis Smyth plays a shot during the third round. ASIAN TOUR

Linkou: Travis Smyth's quest to win his first Asian Tour title gathered momentum yesterday when he took the third-round lead in the US$700,000 Yeangder TPC after shooting the best round of the day, a six-under-par 66 in testing wet and windy conditions.

The Australian, so often a presence on the leader board since the Asian Tour restarted last year, is 13 under for the tournament, with defending champion Lee Chieh-po from Taiwan (69) and Thailand's Chapchai Nirat (71), the overnight leader, one shot back.

Sweden's Bjorn Hellgren (69) and Settee Prakongvech from Thailand (70) are a stroke further off the pace, at Linkou International Golf and Country Club.

Taiwan's latest junior sensation Hsieh Cheng-wei -- who yesterday became the youngest male player to make the cut on one of the game's main Tours, aged 14 -- slipped back with a 78 but was still the talk of the tournament after his incredible achievement.

Smyth, 27, came close to winning the International Series England in June when he finished second, and knows exactly what he wants today.

"A win. Simple as that, I want to win, I want the winners' category," he said. "I feel like I'm playing some pretty solid golf and I believe I can get it done."

He stormed out of the blocks yesterday and was four under after four, thanks to an eagle on the par-five opening hole and birdies on three and four; he dropped his only shot on seven, and then settled into top spot with birdies on 10, 12 and 18.

Lee won here last year, although the tournament was not on the Asian Tour schedule due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic.

He also got off to a fast start with birdies on the first three holes before three more birdies were off set by three bogeys. The inclement weather was a constant challenge for him.

Chapchai is on the comeback trail having refocused and practised hard for the past five months. He is bidding to win for the first time in eight years; the last of his four Asian Tour victories came in the 2014 Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

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