Thailand’s Kanyalak Preedasuttijit shot a third round of 66 on her home course to build a four-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Ladies European Thailand Championship at Phoenix Gold Golf & Country Club in Pattaya.
At 12-under-par, the diminutive 20-year-old from Chonburi City sits four clear of the long-hitting 22-year-old Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands, who fired a 70 in the scorching conditions. Sweden’s Lynn Carlsson (72), Chonlada Chayanun of Thailand (68) and 17-year-old Korean amateur Selin Hyun (69) are a stroke further back in a tie for third.
Appearing in her second LET event after missing the cut at Phoenix 12 months ago, Preedasuttijit made the turn in level par 36 but fired a back nine of 30, including four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 13th hole.
“I was really happy with my back nine and my putter was very good today. Every shot was very good,” she said.
Just 15 months after turning pro, she added that a conservative approach was the key to her success on Saturday and if there was a 50/50 risk-reward shot, then she would take the safer option.
She already has two professional titles, a local Thai LPGA and a China LPGA event, but wants to win this LET event for her parents and for Thailand.
The last three months has seen “Bew” popping in and out of the country to play in China, yet she has still left time to practise at least once a week on the Phoenix Gold course. In the last week she has been constantly fine tuning her game on the greens.
Her all-round display showed an assured air and it will take a real low score to beat her if she can control her last round nerves. There are however, players in the field that are capable of putting the leader under real pressure.
No one is going to pose a bigger threat than Anne Van Dam who has averaged a staggering 310 yards off the tee box this week. The most impressive part of this statistic is that for most of the time she is hitting the ball dead straight, and virtually every hole’s par score is threatened by this talented Dutch player. If she can control her short game tomorrow then any score is possible.
She turned in 36, but it could have been so much better, had she converted putts such as her downhill eagle chance from six feet on the long seventh, where she had played a beautiful six iron from 165 metres away in the rough. After coming home in 34, she said: “On the back I just played really well. I only missed one shot and got unlucky with my tee shot on 15 and the rest was perfect, so it gives me a lot of confidence as I was hitting it a lot close than yesterday. Hopefully we can keep that up and hole some putts tomorrow. I need a big push but we’ll see what happens.”
One thing is for sure, that she will be taking the opposite approach to the leader. “I’m going to play aggressive, give it my all and hopefully some putts will drop,” said the 2016 Xiamen International Open winner, who also has two titles on the LET Access Series.
The overnight joint leader Lynn Carlsson, would have been frustrated by her inability to have replicated her form from the previous day but it is a tough course on which to shoot two great scores on consecutive days.
Carlsson, who finished fourth in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, said: “I played a bit up and down and it wasn’t as solid as yesterday but I think I fought hard and made a few good putts on the back nine, which was important to get myself back in it after a tough start. It’s always nice to be in contention and you have to stay focused on your own game and enjoy it.”
The other European challengers will include Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord who lies in sixth place and Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen, who shares seventh place with Aunchisa Utama and Paulin Del Rosario, seven shots from the lead.
There will be few in women’s world golf that can boast a higher driving average than Van Dam this week and there will be a lot of people who will be fancying her chances tomorrow. There is still the lingering question of how well the local Thailand player will cope with the levels of expectation that will be on her young shoulders tomorrow.
Whatever the outcome, the tournament has once again produced some fantastic golf as the very best of Thailand and Europe has come together to set up this tantalising finale to the competition.