Australian Scott Hend extended his lead at the top of the True Thailand Classic leaderboard on Saturday, as he carded a two-under-par round of 70 to move 14 under for the tournament.
Peter Uihlein sits two shots back on 12 under after a solid 69, while Belgium’s Thomas Pieters shot an emphatic six-under 66 to trail Uihlein by one stroke in a tie for third.
Hend’s fellow overnight leader Pelle Edberg had a day to forget at the Black Mountain Golf Club, but birdies on 17 and 18 reignited his title challenge and put him level with Pieters, as we see below:
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Hend came into Saturday’s round in impressive form. An exceptional eight-under 64 on Friday sent him to the top of the leaderboard, and he looked like continuing in that vein when he carded a birdie on the par-five second hole.
However, he handed that shot right back at the seventh courtesy of some sloppy approach play, and the back nine was similarly topsy-turvy.
Hend birdied the 13th to go clear at the top before another bogey on 14 put him back with the pack. On the 15th hole, though, the Aussie’s class shone through.
After missing the green left, Hend played a delightful chip and roll that nestled in the cup at a perfect pace, as European Tour’s video shows:
There was just enough time for Hend to find another birdie on the 17th, and it could have got better for the Australian on 18 but for a 15-foot putt that went begging.
Still, the 42-year-old comes into the final round in a great position to go on and seal just his second European Tour crown, although he admitted to the tour’s official website that he wasn’t feeling at his best, before looking ahead to Sunday:
It’s just another round of golf for me tomorrow. It’s a long season.
We practise for a result, we practise to try and get a win, we try to get ourselves in this position to have a win. If you’re not in this position, you get upset with yourself.
When you’re actually here, you’ve got to try to enjoy it and embrace it. It’s not very often you get a chance to lead a tournament on a Saturday night, let alone on a Sunday. It was a good grind.
Out of 10, I felt like two out of ten, felt really tired, no energy. I knew it was going to be a tough day, very windy, so I’m very pleased.
Hend’s playing partner Edberg has been the man in form all week, but his True Thailand Classic title charge almost took a big hit on Saturday.
Level par through 10 holes, the Swede then bogeyed four of his next five to slip down the leaderboard to nine under.
It looked like getting even worse for Edberg on the 16th after an errant tee shot, yet he produced a miraculous recovery to card a par, per the European Tour:
From then on, the momentum changed, and Edberg closed out his day with two excellent birdies to go 11 under par.
Joining the Swede on 11 under is Pieters, who rose 20 places on Saturday courtesy of a stunning, blemish-free 66.
The big-hitting Belgian carded three birdies each side of the turn for his six under total—mirroring his score from Friday’s play.
Pieters is undoubtedly the man in form going into Sunday, as he hasn’t had a bogey since the 12th hole on Thursday.
Uihlein will partner Hend for the final round, though, after he shot a solid three-under round of 69.
It could well have been a lot better for the American, but the flat stick just wasn’t cooperating.
Even so, if Uihlein can find a way to get his putter red-hot, he’ll have a great chance of landing the title.
The lead has changed hands several times already at the Black Mountain Golf Club, and it would be far from a surprise to see that trend continue on Sunday.
Scores have been incredibly impressive all week, and if one of the pack can produce the goods in the final hours, they’ll pull clear and take home the trophy.