GOLF: Shahriffuddin Ariffin doesn’t want to look back or get ahead of himself. None of those feats will be easy to accomplish as he takes a four-shot lead heading into the final round of the $75,000 (B2.5m) Laguna Phuket Cup today (May 10).
Shahriffuddin Ariffin takes a four shot lead in today’s final round. Photo: Jason Butler / bgbimages.com
The 22-year-old Malaysian is set to claim a second Asian Development Tour (ADT) title after backing an opening 64 with a sensational under-62 eight at Laguna Golf Phuket yesterday to battle the Beautiful Thailand Swing (BTS) event out of 14 under par.
Thitipan Pachuayprakong is Ariffin’s closest pursuer heading into the final round at -10 after rounds of 64-66 while another Thai, Sarun Sirithon, is joined by Swede Calle Strandberg and Japanese-American Ryoto Furuya a blow further.
Given the low score and favorite lies in play at Laguna Golf Phuket, it will take something extraordinary for the player lower in the rankings to contend, especially if Ariffin can continue his current hot streak.
He finished T-13 at the Laguna Phuket Challenge last week with rounds of 68-68-66 and continued his impressive downtrend in the first 36 holes. Indeed, he has come a long way since placing T-8 at the Asian Tour’s SMBC Singapore Open in January and winning the PGM Maybank Championship at Saujana Golf & Country Club in late March. Ariffin won the Malaysian PGA Tour event by three strokes, including with a confidence-inspiring final six under 66.
It all adds to the belief that he can get the job done today and add to his maiden ADT win at the 2018 PGM Labuan Championship in Malaysia. Again, Ariffin tries desperately not to think about it.
“I’m very excited but right now I don’t want to think about it. [winning],” he said.
“My game plan tomorrow is to just keep hitting fairways and greens and go from there. That’s it.”
Ariffin found his rider a little uncooperative in the first moto, but had no such issues yesterday. He got off to a sizzling start with a two-foot birdie on 1st and another seven-footer on second but left the high point until 9and when he hit the one-footed driver-3 wood and drilled the tiddler for an eagle three to turn in 29 shots. In total his card was flawless with six birdies to go along with the pretty eagle.
“I hit it really well, lots of fairways, lots of greens and my putting is working too… there were only a few holes, I was just getting the line confused, that’s all.”
Jesse Yap climbed the standings to a share of sixth on eight under after matching Ariffin’s 62 with a round that included eight birdies – including five on the trot of 10and. The Singaporean, who leads after the first round of the Laguna Phuket Challenge and eventually finished T-13 alongside Arifin, is a combined 16-under for five Laguna Phuket circuits and hopes to put some heat on the leaders with a another low turn. .
Laguna Phuket Challenge winner Tom Sloman is five under after scoring 66 yesterday and enjoys a three-stroke lead over fellow Englishman David Langley in the MENA Tour race in the wider BTS race.
The eventual winner of the MENA Tour’s Journey to Jordan Order of Merit 2020+ race, which concludes at the end of BTS after two more events at Blue Canyon Country Club, will earn an invitation to one of the new 1.5 million dollars + from the Asian Tour. International Series events later this year.
Englishman David Hauge, currently third in the J2J OOM, missed the cut which was made at two cents.