Saturday's roundup: Lahiri leads after Thomas falters at CIMB Classic
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — Defending champion Justin Thomas endured a terrible start to the third round of the CIMB Classic after the American faltered with three bogeys and a double bogey to finish with a 1-under 71 Saturday.
Thomas was swiftly overtaken by Anirban Lahiri, who shone at the TPC Kuala Lumpur with nine birdies for a 65 to open up a four-shot lead going into the final round on Sunday.
Thomas had two bogeys and a double bogey in the first three holes of the back nine.
“Yeah, it was really just terrible golf for the first 13 holes. To be 4-over par out here, it was a very weird feeling. I don’t know,” he said.
At least the 23-year-old Thomas ended the penultimate round with five consecutive birdies.
“It was great to have that finish,” Thomas said. “I feel like that showed a lot of me and I hope that I can ride the momentum into tomorrow.”
Lahiri’s low score positioned him at 19 under, a mark which could have been better if not for a double bogey on the 12th hole in an otherwise flawless scorecard.
“I just told myself that I got rid of my double-bogey early in the round today and just tried to focus on what I needed to do,” said Lahiri, who was runner-up at the Asian Tour’s Macau Open last week.
“You know, like I said, I feel like I’m hitting it good with my irons, my wedges and I’m putting it good.”
Scotland’s Russell Knox played another solid round for a 68, to move tied for second with Thomas.
Trailing a shot behind them are Derek Fathauer, James Hahn and Hideki Matsuyama, who are tied at 14-under.
Ryan Moore, the 2013 and 2014 winner, finished tied on 17th after managing a 70.
Jessica Korda caught Minjee Lee in the Blue Bay LPGA. Ariya Jutanugarn made up even more ground to move into contention for her sixth victory of the season.
Korda shot a 6-under 66 at Jian Lake to make up seven strokes on Lee for a share of the lead, and Jutanugarn had a 65 to cut her deficit from 10 to two shots and get in the final group Sunday.
In hot and mostly calm conditions four days after Typhoon Sarika hit the South China Sea beach resort, Korda had five birdies in a six-hole stretch and got up-and-down for another on the par-5 18th.
Lee had a 73, also getting up-and-down for birdie on 18 to match Korda at 11-under 205. The 20-year-old Australian began the day six strokes ahead after shooting 65-67 the first two rounds.
The second-ranked Jutanugarn had the best round of the day on the course with difficult to hit valleys and plateaus on the large greens. The 20-year-old Thai star leads the tour in victories and tops the player of the year points race.
Denmark’s Anders Hansen shot a 9-under 62 for a share of the Portugal Masters lead with Finland’s Mikko Korhonen.
The 46-year-old Hansen had an 18-under 195 total at Oceanico Victoria. He’s playing a part-time schedule this season.
Korhonen had a 64. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington was a stroke back after a 67.