Bhullar maintains lead at Macau Open

Macau: India`s Gaganjeet Bhullar stayed firmly in the driver`s seat at the Venetian Macau Open golf after scrambling to a two-under-par 69 in the third round here Saturday.

The 24-year-old Bhullar, who has led the$750,000 Asian Tour event from the opening day, retained his overnight two-shot lead at the Macau Golf and Country Club but rued two missed putts from close range over the last two holes.

Thai youngster Thitiphun Chuayprakong also shot a 69 to stay in contention for a maiden Asian Tour victory while Filipino Angelo Que (70), Scott Hend of Australia (69) and American Berry Henson (68) will enter the final round four shots back.

Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee`s challenge fizzled after a disappointing 73 while Bangladeshi Siddikur also failed to mount a run at Bhullar following a 72 which included five dropped shots in the middle of his round.

The supremely talented Bhullar will be aiming for a second victory within the space of a month but knows his challengers will not hand him victory on a silver platter.

"I`ve won a few times wire-to-wire in India. The goal now is to do it on the bigger stage and on a bigger level," said Bhullar, who has a three-day total of 13-under-par 200.

The lead could have been bigger for Bhullar, ranked sixth on the Order of Merit, if he had not missed short putts in his last two holes. The Indian missed par from three feet on 17 and then failed to convert a birdie chance from a similar range at the last hole. In all, he snared five birdies against three bogeys as he maintained his chase for a fourth career victory on the Asian Tour.

Thitiphun, 20, continued to show his growing stature by staying in touch with Bhullar after signing for four birdies against two bogeys. He overcame his early nerves to remain as Bhullar`s main threat.

Filipino Que, chasing a fourth Asian Tour win, was kicking himself for not taking advantage of the easier front nine which he toured in 37 following a triple bogey on the fifth hole. But he fought back on the inward stretch with three birdies.

Scores after Round 3:
200 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 63-68-69.
202 - Thitiphun Chuayprakong(THA) 67-66-69.
204 - Berry Henson (USA) 67-69-68, Scott Hend (AUS) 65-70-69, Angelo Que (PHI) 68-66-70.
205 - Jonathan Moore (USA) 67-68-70, Adilson da Silva (BRA) 68-66-71, Kieran Pratt (AUS) 66-68-71, Prom Meesawat (THA) 65-68-72.
206 - Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 68-72-66, Siddiukr (BAN) 66-68-72.
207 - Unho Park (AUS) 69-68-70, Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-67-70, Rikard Karlberg (SWE) 69-68-70, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 66-68-73.


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