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Asian stars poised for explosive third round

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An exciting day’s play is in prospect at the SMBC Singapore Open with a posse of young Asian guns pitting themselves against world stars Justin Rose of England and American Matt Kuchar in the third round.

Defending champion Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand takes a one shot advantage over teen standout Joohyung Kim of Korea and Filipino Miguel Tabuena into Saturday’s play at Sentosa Golf Club.

The trio tee off in the last group at 11.25 am.

World number nine Rose and Kuchar, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, are locked together in joint fourth, two strokes off the lead, and will partner Richard T. Lee of Canada at 11.15 am.

Thailand’s Gunn Charoenkul, who is hoping to cap a great run of form with a win, India’s Rashid Khan and Tomoharu Otsuki of Japan are in the third last group at 11.05 am and will be wanting to make up ground on Jazz who leads them by four strokes.

Four players finished their second rounds on Saturday morning with the cut coming at +1.

Singapore amateurs James Leow, the reigning SEA Games champion, and Low Wee Jin and countryman Koh Deng Shan all made the weekend play on the number and they have been grouped together in the third round.

Jazz shot 65 on Friday to take the lead and is anticipating challenges from Rose and Kuchar.

“There are still two more days and anything can happen,” said the world number 38. “There are a lot of good players here. Kuchar and Rose are still within reach and I will just stick to my plan and hopefully will take a win for the weekend.

“Everyone will be bringing their ‘A’ game into the weekend. You just got to try and bring yours too and do what you have to do.”

Kim, aged just 17, said that he watched players like Rose and Kuchar on television growing up and was thrilled to be competing against them at the SMBC Singapore Open.

“I was just watching these guys on TV a couple of years ago,” said Kim, who won the Panasonic Open last year on just his third start on the Asian Tour.

“To be in the same field this week is very honoring. I hope to qualify for The Open. It will be my Major debut. I will try to get myself into the PGA Tour as well and try to break top-100 on the Official World Golf Ranking. These are my goals so if I can achieve that, it will be great.”

Tabuena placed fourth in the 2016 SMBC Singapore Open and is looking for another high finish.

“It would have been a bit better if they did The Open qualifying series (it started in 2017) when I finished fourth,” said the 25 year old, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour.

“I still can’t complain, that was my best year here so far in 2016. Hopefully, this year will be even better. I guess if I win the SMBC Singapore Open it’ll take care of itself right (qualifying for The Open). I’m here to win, and I’m just going to go out there and play the way I’ve been playing.”

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