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Saturday, February 20, 2016
Soo-min gives Maybank Championship Korean flavour with 3-shot lead
South Korean Lee Soo-min reacts after hitting a shot at the Maybank Championship Malaysia golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. - S.S,KANESAN/ The STAR
PETALING JAYA: The Maybank Championship Malaysia (MCM) has suddenly turned into a K-Pop show.
South Korea’s Lee Soo-min wowed the crowd with a sizzling round of nine birdies and two bogeys to seize a three-shot lead in the third round of the MCM at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC) on day.
Making only his second European Tour start, the 22-year-old fired a seven-under 64 for a three-round total of 15-under 198 and move three clear of Australian Marcus Fraser.
Fraser shot a flawless 66 while compatriot Nathan Holman relinquished his lead for the first time after struggling to a 73 on a frustrating day that saw him give away seven shots, including a triple bogey on his last hole.
Soo-min, who plies his trade on his native Korean Tour and the Asian Tour, will now be facing his biggest challenge yet since turning pro in 2014.
Marcus Fraser of Australia
“I feel a little bit nervous thinking about the final round,” admitted the two-time Korean Tour winner
“But I will try my best. This weekend will be very good for my golf life.
“It was very exciting. I had a good feeling this week because I like playing on this course.
“I hit many important iron shots today. I tried to putt close to the hole but it went in, so I gained some confidence on the greens.
“I’m trying to enjoy my game and focus on my own game. If I keep my ball on the fairway, then it will be good for me to try and score.”
After making the turn on 33, Soo-min’s game came alive.
He went on to birdie five of his first six holes on the back nine, before bogeying the 16th. But another brilliant putt on the 17th won him his ninth shot of the day.
Soo-min’s first European Tour action in the Hong Kong Open last October saw him finishing an impressive joint third.
With a three-shot deficit to overcome, Fraser has set his sights on ending a six-year title drought.
“Probably somewhere around the 18-under mark will win it, depending on what the leader does tomorrow,” said the two-time European Tour winner, who last tasted success at the Ballantine’s Championship in 2010.
“There are a few guys stacked in behind him, so we’ll see what the final day brings. It’s going to be interesting.”
Spain’s Jorge Campillo, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines also kept themselves in contention at five shots off the lead.
Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee withdrew before the tee-off due to high fever.