Moving day at the Resorts World Manila Masters presented by 918.com was a day of scoring. The storied Manila Southwoods Golf and Country’s Masters Course gave up a ton of birdies with three players – Lionel Webber, Jbe Kruger and Berry Henson tying the course record with 8-under par 64s and one, Prom Meesawat shattering it with a tremendous 9-under par 63.
Meesawat exploded with birdies on 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 14 and 15 before punctuating his round with an eagle on the par 5 18th.
“I played good from the tee and gave myself chances for my second shot. My putts … every putt fitted my eye. I started to hole some putts from the second and third holes and I started to get my feeling back. I hit it good and it was a good finish on 18 with the eagle. But I still left some birdie putts out there. I only missed one fairway on one par five. I’m really happy to shoot a 63.”
“It played a lot easier today. Playing early in the morning, there was no wind and it’s a big advantage. The guys playing in the afternoon will be difficult. That’s the difference between the first two rounds as I played in the wind then. It’s not easy to control the ball in the wind as the greens are quite small here,” said Prom, who is the highest ranked player in the field at third on the Order of Merit.
“I didn’t know about the course record. So to eagle the last hole for the course record is very good. It’s great to be in contention now for the final round. I had about 200 yards to the front edge, 212 to the pin and I hit a rescue to just one foot of the flag. It felt really good.
“I still missed some chances for birdies on 10, 11 and 12 and it could have been lower. I think the leaders will get to 14 or 15 under, hopefully the wind picks up in the afternoon so that I won’t be too far behind by the end of the day.”
Playing in the penultimate flight, reigning Asian number 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat turned in a workman-like 68 notching 6 birdies against 2 bogeys to move into second place on his own at 13-under par for the tournament. This is Aphibarnrat’s first visit to the Philippines and to the Manila Resorts World Masters and he is making the most of it. The Masters Course is reciprocating Kiradech’s good feelings.
“I’ve been hitting the driver well all day. 15 is a par 5, dogleg left and the wind was pushing from the left. I was trying to turn the ball from right to left but I didn’t strike it well. I got lucky as the ball hit a big tree and bounced back into the course. I made birdie on that hole. It could be a big turning point for me,” he said.
“I talked to my caddie on the last hole to get a birdie and get ourselves into the final group so that we can try to put pressure on Mardan. Today he started so well. I made bogey on 7 and I was like one or two shots behind but after turning on nine, I was five shots behind. His golf is solid. This course suits his game.”
Not to be outdone by the upstarts, the tournament co-leader Mardan Mamat went on a tear of his own starting his round with four straight birdies and narrowly missing a fifth when he left his putt on the par 3 5th on the lip. He held his momentum with yet another birdie on the 9th when he hit his approach shot to 3 feet.
After yet another birdie on 11, Mamat slipped with a bogey on the tough par 3 13th hole.
“I misjudged the wind,” he said, “I hit rescue there the first couple of days and yesterday I almost hit it over the green. When I stepped on the tee the wind did not seem to be so strong so I hit rescue again. The wind must have picked up because the ball landed well short of the green.”
“When I got up to the ball there was a big piece of mud on it. I tried to run the ball up to the pin but because of the mud the ball stopped well short. I tried to calm myself and told myself that even if I miss the putt I’m still 5-under for the day so I should just carry on. Luckily it worked out and I managed to birde 18 to close the round.”
When asked how he felt about playing the final round with Kiradech, Mamat replied, “Kiradech is a very good player, very strong and will probably outdrive me by 50-60-yards tomorrow. But hopefully, I will play my own game and not mind what he is doing. Playing with Wang today, he outdrove me by 30-yards on some holes but I just went about my business and played my game. I’m really comfortable out there and will try to do the same tomorrow in the final round.”