Japan’s Takumi Kanaya opened up a three-shot lead after the penultimate round of the US$2 million International Series Vietnam today, showing the skill and composure that helped him record a breakthrough victory in the International Series Oman in February.
The 24 year old from Hiroshima carded a six-under-par 66, for an impressive tournament total of 17 under, with Australian Kevin Yuan and Jazz Janewattananond from Thailand in second place, on the Greg Norman-designed championship course at KN Golf Links.
Yuan also returned a 66, while Jazz, the overnight leader, carded a 71.
Zimbabwean Kieran Vincent is in solo fourth after a 71, four behind the Japanese frontrunner.
This week is Kanaya’s first Asian Tour event since Oman, where he became the maiden player from Japan to win an International Series event and the first from his country to claim an Asian Tour event outside of Japan in 13 years.
“Yeah, I’m feeling so great right now,” said Kanaya, a three-time winner on the Japan Tour, with his most recent coming in 2021 at the Token Homemate Cup.
“Today the greens were very firm and bouncy, the conditions were difficult but still my shots were good, and I was putting really well, so I’ll just keep going tomorrow.
“I’ll do my best tomorrow, just focus shot by shot and just do it.”
Yuan is in the form of his life having made the cut in all eight events on the Asian Tour this season, highlighted by a fifth place finish in the International Series Thailand.
He said: “I’d say the biggest thing would just be improving my ball striking, not shooting too many high numbers when I don’t really have my game together. You know, there’s so many good Asian Tour players, it is always very competitive. So, it gives me a lot of confidence to keep making cuts when I’m not playing my best.
“I felt good out there, like on the driving range I was hitting the shots that I wanted, seeing the ball flights that I wanted, and it continued throughout the round. So, I felt it was a pretty stress free, bogey free round today.”
Yuan has also been seeing the same coach as Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho, Jonathan Wallett. Kho hit the headlines three weeks ago when he triumphed in the World City Championship in Hong Kong.
“Taichi winning has really motivated me to do better because he’s such a good player, just seeing his game and stuff like that,” said the Australian.
“And after Hong Kong, just going back to Australia working on a few things and it’s good to see that I’m also heading in the right direction. John’s been really helpful, like very supportive, whenever I need him he is there. You know, we talk every day, text every day, so it’s been very good.”
Jazz led with Kanaya for much of the day but a poor back nine, which he played in one over including a bogey on 18, saw him slip back.
“Just got really bad momentum on the back nine you know, just couldn’t get it back,” said the seven-time Asian Tour winner.
“But all in all, I’m still in the game, I didn’t lose it completely. I almost lost it completely but not totally out of it yet so still have a chance. Just got to go out there and get some good breaks, hopefully get that momentum going again.”
Thailand’s Pawin Ingkhapradit (64) and Pavit Tangkamolprasert (68), Chinese amateur Ding Wenyi (67), the 2022 US Junior Amateur champion, and Hong Kong’s Matthew Cheung (67) are equal fifth, five off the lead.
American Andy Ogletree, presently ahead on both the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merits, returned a 70, to go to minus eight.
England’s Paul Casey, who fought his way into contention with a second round 64, shot a 72 today and is six under.
*Credit information to www.asiantour.com