PGA Tour

French rookie soars to the top in Thailand

 Clement Sordet (Gallo)
Clement Sordet (Gallo)

Chonburi - Unheralded young Frenchman Clement Sordet fired a cracking nine-under 63 to seize the lead in the third round of the Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club on Saturday.

Sordet, who ironically was the very last golfer to be invited to compete in the tournament, played superbly to leave overnight leader Jamie Donaldson two shots adrift after the Welshman shot a 71.

Lee Westwood, a two-time champion of the tournament, gave himself a chance to make it a hat-trick with an excellent eight-under 64, to move up the leaderboard into third place, one shot behind Donaldson.

Korea's An Byeong-hun took over fourth spot following a 68, with Ryder Cup stars Sergio Garcia (70) and Martin Kaymer (72) a further stroke behind in joint fifth place.

The unassuming Sordet, who is just 23 and only turned professional in July, was delighted with his faultless round which included seven birdies and an eagle.

"I just took it shot by shot and had no idea I was nine-under," he said. "Of course I was really happy with that score."

He said that while the eagle of the 15th was the highlight of the round, he particularly enjoyed sinking a birdie on the 17th.

"In the last round I suffered a triple bogey at that hole so today I got my revenge," he said.

Sordet, ranked 481 in the world, said he felt good about the prospect of playing with the likes of such stars as Westwood and Donaldson in the final round.

"It's always been my dream to play with top players and now I am going to do that. Hopefully I will enjoy it and just play my own game."

Donaldson, who had led for the first two rounds, said he was playing quite happily on the first nine, but then things changed dramatically with a double-bogey at the 12th.

"I was cruising, not playing great, but doing enough until the 12th, which was a killer. Suddenly I went from feeling great to wondering what on earth was going on."

Donaldson is experienced enough to know he is still in with a very good chance. "Tomorrow is another day. I just need a good start and I will be okay. I'm still in it."

Westwood, who won this tournament in 2011 and again last year, has his eyes on the title once again after an impressive round in which he sunk nine birdies and suffered just the one bogey.

"It certainly gives me confidence knowing I'm playing a course on which I have won twice before," said the Englishman.

Westwood said he played very well and thought a lot of it was down to his improved putting. "I played with a new putter. It feels a lot more stable and the putts were rolling in."

However, he knows he still has some work to do if he is to win his third title at the Amata course.

"The guys playing are very good. I need a really low score to win the title," he said.

A determined-looking Kaymer admitted he was disappointed with his even-par round.

"I had a good front nine, but was a bit unlucky on the back nine. If I hit more fairways and am lucky on the greens I still have a good chance."

Bubba Watson once again struggled to find his touch and had to settle for a 72 to put him well down the field.

"I felt good, but just didn't make the putts," he said. "Every year I've been here it's the same thing - my short game. I just can't get the right speed on the greens."

Leading scores after the third round of the Thailand Golf Championship on Saturday at the par-72 Amata Spring Country Club course:

200 - Clement Sordet (FRA) 71-66-63

202 - Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 63-68-71

203 - Lee Westwood (ENG) 71-68-64

204 - An Byeong-hun (KOR) 69-67-68

205 - Sergio Garcia (ESP) 66-69-70, Martin Kaymer (GER) 68-65-72

206 - Sam Brazel (AUS) 70-68-68

207 - Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 68-67-72

208 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 68-76-64, Yusaku Miyazato (JPN) 68-74-66, Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 73-68-67, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 69-72-67, Kang Sung-hoon (KOR) 70-68-70

209 - S.S.P Chawrasia (IND) 72-69-68, Darren Clarke (NIR) 69-71-69, Jin Cheng (A) (CHN) 73-67-69, Phachara Kongwatmai (THA) 68-71-70, Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 70-66-73

210 - Jacques Blaauw (RSA) 70-69-71, Brett Munson (USA) 67-72-71, Joost Luiten (NED) 69-70-71

211 - Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 73-69-69, Arjun Atwal (IND) 73-69-69, Shiv Kapur (IND) 71-71-69, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 72-70-69, Shingo Katayama (JPN) 71-70-70, Berry Henson (USA) 70-70-71, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 70-70-71

Selected Scores

212 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 73-67-72

213 - Nathan Holman (AUS) 72-70-71, Bubba Watson (USA) 71-70-72

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