Sun, 26 Jan 2003

Els keeps lead as Nyman cards 5-under

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Singapore

Despite failing to maintain his form, world No. 2 Ernie Els kept his lead at the US$900,000 Caltex Singapore Masters by carding a two-under, which gave him a total of 10-under-206.

Chinese Zhang Lian-wei trailed Els after scoring a three-under for an aggregate of 208, while Thai Marksaeng Prayad followed closely with another three-under earning him a total of 209.

Meanwhile, Swede Per G. Nyman carded the day's best score of five-under, earning him fourth place with a total of five-under- 211.

Saturday's third round saw 79 golfers surviving the cut-off, out of the 144 golfers who started out the tournament.

Els started his third round quite well, with a three-under at the first nine holes. He birdied par-4 hole 3, par-3 hole 5 and par-5 hole 7.

Returning to the clubhouse, Els sent another birdie at the par-5 hole 11, only to ruin his early lead with two bogeys.

"I did not have the finish I wanted, missing that putt on the last, misclubbing on the last was not the cleverest thing to do," the South African said after his game.

"I started with a one-shot lead; now I have a two-shot lead but it looked good for a while. Some of the guys played really well coming in, so tomorrow is going to be a tough day."

Els admitted that mistakes happened and did not feel he had opened the door for others.

"I can't really say that. I made mistakes so you can interpret that the way you want to see it, but I tried to play my game and just made mistakes coming in.

"I think this might help me tomorrow to get down and try and play aggressively."

Meanwhile, Zhang made only one birdie at the par-5 hole 7 going out, and another three at the back nine which advantage was spoiled by a bogey.

Zhang birdied the par-4 hole 10, par-5 hole 15 and par-3 hole 17, and bogeyed at the par-4 hole 16.

Thai Marksaeng was third with a total of 209 after he carded 69 on the tournament's third round. He birdied the second, third and par-4 sixth holes, but bogeyed the fifth hole while going out.

Returning home, he made another bogey at the par-4 hole 10, but managed to sink two bogeys at par-4 hole 13 and par-3 hole 17.

"I am pretty happy with the way I played today. My putts were very good, but I had problems with the short ones," he told reporters. "I was a bit distracted by the wind when I was over the putt."

Carding a better five-under-67 on Friday, Marksaeng said he used a new putting style this week by placing his left hand below his right hand.

"It seems to be working on the long ones. I holed a number of long putts for pars and birdies today."

Marksaeng shared the tied third place with Simon Yates of Scotland, who parred his third round.

Yates bogeyed holes 6 and 9 in the front nine, and made another bogey at the 17th hole while going out. His birdies were charged at holes 15, 16 and 18 going home.