JAKARTA, Indonesia, April 23 – World number two Lee Westwood opened up a five-shot lead at the Indonesian Masters on Saturday, shooting a superb six-under-par 66 in his third round.
The Englishman bogeyed the last hole but was still 16 under par on 200, putting himself in an excellent position to mark his 38th birthday with a victory at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.
Westwood was the world number one for 17 weeks before being replaced by Martin Kaymer of Germany in February and could regain the top spot if he wins on Sunday and Luke Donald does not in the United States.
The Englishman, who had to complete the last two holes of his second round early Saturday morning, has won more than 30 titles in his career and said: "I’ve been in this position before and I’ll try not to get ahead of myself."
He said he was focusing on taking the title in Jakarta, rather than thinking about the consequences.
"I’m here to win a tournament. World rankings seem to take care of themselves," said Westwood, Europe’s number one in 2000 and 2009.
Reverting to the conventional putter from the belly putter worked wonders for him on the course as he shot sets of three birdies in a row, from the first and ninth holes.
"It feels much better using the conventional putter because every decent putt seems to go in and that made me more comfortable," he said.
Asian Tour rookie Park Hyun-bin of South Korea fired a 70 to share second place with Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand (69) on a 205 total at the $750,000 event, which is being held for the first time.
Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng fired a 69, including an eagle three on the 12th hole to lie fourth while Bangladeshi Siddikur, Filipino Antonio Lascuna and Thai duo Prom Meesawat and Thongchai Jaidee were one stroke further back.
Little-known Thitiphun, who earned his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School in Thailand only this year and won an event in China last week, admitted to nerves but took heart from sinking an 18-foot birdie putt on the second hole.
The 18-year-old was relishing the chance to play with Westwood in the final round.
"You won’t get much opportunities of playing with one of the world’s best golfers," he said. "I’m really looking forward to it. It won’t be easy to win though because I think I’ll be very nervous."
Park saved numerous pars in a round of two birdies and was delighted with his putting and accurate iron play.
"My putting has been very solid. I managed to save many pars. I wished I could make more birdies but overall, I’m happy with what I shot," said the 24-year-old.