Closely-bunched leaderboard excites at Shinhae Donghae Open

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Guntaek Koh - TheGolfingHub
Guntaek Koh shot a 66 to lead the way on 15-under-par on the Ocean Course at Club72 on Day 3 of the Shinhan Donghae Open. Photo: Asian Tour

Former champion Richard T. Lee and Korean Guntaek Koh, in-form with two wins domestically this year, staked their claim for the Shinhan Donghae Open today after taking a share of the third-round lead.

Lee, the winner in 2017 at a different venue, fired a five-under-par 67, and Koh a 66, to lead the way on 15-under-par on the Ocean Course at Club72 – located near Incheon International Airport.

Overnight leader Wooyoung Cho (71), Korea’s amateur star, his countryman Taehoon OK (67) and Australian Anthony Quayle (67) are one back – in an event tri-sanctioned by the Asian, Japan and Korean Tours.

 

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Quayle had looked set to finish in front by one but double-bogeyed the par-five 18th. 

Japan’s Ryuko Tokimatsu (66) and Spaniard David Puig (68) are another stroke back.

Lee has been knocking on the door this year on the Asian Tour and senses a real opportunity tomorrow to add to that victory six years ago, which is his most recent success on the Tour.

“It was great, a bogey-free round. It’s been a while since I had a bogey-free round,” said the Canadian, who’s other win on the Asian Tour came in the 2014 Solaire Open.

“The conditions out there are scoreable, I took advantage of it and made good putts. This year I have felt like I have been in contention pretty much every event. I have been having a slight struggle with the putter, but I have finally sorted it and this week is a very good chance for me to hold the trophy again. 

“I have just got to make more birdies out there tomorrow and not drop shots. I love this tournament, they always take care of us, the course conditions are always nice. To win this event twice is very big in Korea.”

Koh won on the Korean PGA Tour in April and July and success on Sunday will see him become the first player to win three times in Korea this year.

 

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He said: “Satisfied. I tried to defend and take opportunities when they came. Really happy to finish in the lead. I didn’t push myself too hard. I played aggressively on the holes where I had chances. My mental game is better than before, and those two wins have made be a stronger, more confident golfer.”

Quayle, in the penultimate group, is a step closer to securing his first title on the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour. He was in control all day having started with birdies on the opening two holes and after nine holes he was tied with Cho for the lead on 14 under, thanks to a fine front nine of five-under-par 30. A birdie on the 11th saw him take the outright lead, and he held that until calamity struck on the last, where his third found the front bunker, from where he splashed out and three putted, missing a three-footer.

“I played pretty well,” said the 29-year-old.

“I didn’t put a foot wrong until the last. Me and the last hole haven’t got on to well so far. Hopefully if it comes down to it, it will be a bit more friendly tomorrow.

“Everything feels really good. I don’t feel like it’s been a week when I have really milked it. I feel like I have played quite solid. I have holed a couple I probably shouldn’t have, and I have missed a couple I feel like I should have made. I feel like the score is reflective of how I played. I have a chance on a Sunday, which is nice.”

Quayle has been in this position before in Japan, having finished second on three occasions since joining the circuit in 2017, most noticeably last year when he led the Mizuno Open by four strokes with a round to play and still held a one-shot advantage playing the 17th. But he was caught by Scott Vincent from Zimbabwe and then lost in a play-off. He also finished joint second in the Sega Sammy Cup in July.

He added: “A couple of those close finishes [on the Japan Tour] have been mistakes on my part, and a couple of them have been other people better on the day. But I feel I have learned a lot and how to get the best out of those situations. Some of those lessons will come in handy tomorrow.”

Japan’s Keita Nakajima, currently second on the Japan Golf Tour Money List after two wins this year, carded his second successive 67 and has an outside chance tomorrow, sitting 11-under in a tie for 9th.