Wang leads the pack at Qatar Masters

 29 Jan 2017 - 11:51

Wang leads the pack at Qatar Masters

By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula

Korea's Jeunghun Wang yesterday carded an impressive 7 under par 65 to grab the lead with an overall score of 15 under par 201 on the third day of the Qatar Masters.

Seven birdies under sunny conditions at the Doha Golf Club (DGC) helped the 21-year-old Korean - playing in Qatar for the first time - to savour a bogey-free round at the $2.5m European Tour event.

South Africa's Jaco Van Zyl and Spain's Nacho Elvira are three shots behind Wang after both carded 4 under par 68s yesterday.

South Africa's Thomas Aiken is at fourth spot at 11 under par 205 after carding three under par 69.  

English duo Nathan Kimsey (66) and Andy Sullivan (70), Spain's Rafa Bello Cabrera (66), Sweden's Joakim Lagergren (67) and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat (70) are tied at fifth spot at overall card of 10 under par 206.

Among the big names, four-time Major winner Ernie Els (71), world Number 10 Alex Noren (71) and 2013 champion Chris Wood (70) were on seven-under, two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer (68) was six-under and 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell (70) was five-under.

After managing birdies on holes 3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 16 and 18, Wang said his enjoyed his day at DGC bathed in sunshine after a couple of windless days.

"My iron play was really good today and my putting was also good. I (managed to) shoot 7 under. I'm so happy that I didn't make any bogeys today, so I'm really happy about it," Wang said about his bogey-free round.

The Korean star - one of  record-breaking nine players to come into day three with a share of the lead - said he won't be thinking about a possible win today.

"I don't want to think about win. (I) just want to focus on my own game. My irons and putting (have been) really good this week. I think I have a good chance to win," he said with a smile.

Wang, the 2016 European Tour Rookie of the Year after winning back-to-back titles in Morocco and Mauritius last May, said he had Koreans backing him around the course yesterday.

"I got a lot of confidence from them (the Korean fans). A couple of them brought a Korea flag, so I felt really great,” said Wang. "I like this course. I like the wind. I like the green conditions. It's pretty nice for me. Nice to play on this course. I'm excited to play tomorrow," he said.

Tied for the second spot with Elvira, Van Zyl fired only birdies - on holes 8, 10, 14 and 16 - before settling for a card of 4 under par 68 for an overall score of 12 under par 204.

"Obviously it's a good score. But really felt like I left quite a lot out there. I hit it nicely today and just didn't quite capitalise where I could," Van Zyl, looking for a first win on the European Tour, said.

"I'll obviously try and get them back tomorrow, and get some with interest. I am really excited to get out there tomorrow.

"I started off a bit breezy this morning when we started, but it died down a little bit towards the end. I felt that the back nine definitely played a little bit easier than the front.

"Like I said, I've been hitting it nicely and playing nicely the last three days, and I'll take that form into Sunday," the 21-year-old said.

Elvira overcame a bogey on hole 15 with six birdies - on holes 4, 10, 11, 14, 17 and 18.

"I started hitting the ball pretty well. I think I was under control all the way through the last couple holes, and then my mind wasn't in the right place on a couple drives in the end. But overall, I'm pretty happy," Elviro said.

When asked about the bogey on hole 15, he said: "It wasn't that difficult of a tee shot. The wind was blowing into us off the right a little bit. It was just aiming a little bit right and for some reason, it was a little bit quick on my process and it was a bad drive.

"I mean, I cannot judge a round over that drive. I think it's a great round today with these wind conditions, and the pins were a little bit tucked today, so I'm feeling very happy."

Elviro added: "I think it's been a great round today. Honestly. I think I hit the ball pretty well. I was in the right position most of the time. I missed a couple shots coming in, but like I said, I cannot judge a round by a bad shot. I think it's a great round today."

First held in 1998, the Qatar Masters has helped establish Qatar as a world-class sporting venue and is considered the country’s annual ‘must-attend’ sporting and social event.

Sitting at the heart of the European Tour’s Middle East swing, the tournament attracted over 25,000 spectators in 2016 and was broadcast to a global TV audience of over 400 million, organisers said a day before the event kicked off on Thursday.

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