In another tropical day at Laguna Golf Phuket, Korean amateur Dongmin Kim shot a 3-under 67 to move to 12-under and extend his lead to two strokes over America’s Alex Kang heading into the final round of the PGA TOUR Series-China’s third and final Global Qualifying Tournament.
Kang, the older brother of LPGA major champion Danielle Kang, shot 68 to place second, one ahead of compatriot Jared Howard (66), Japan’s Narutoshi Yamaoka (67) and Canada’s Stuart Macdonald (69), who played with Kang on the 2018 Web.com Tour.
Kim previously played on the Korean national team, a teammate with last week’s Global Qualifying Tournament winner Taeho Kim (no relation), and Dongmin Kim is looking to follow his friend’s lead and secure the only full card available this week for the 14-event regular season.
Bogey-free through 15 holes, Kim was 5-under and leading by four strokes before a costly double bogey on 16 dropped his lead to only two shots. Kim and Kang will play together for a fourth consecutive day, during Friday’s final round.
“I know Kang is a good player but all I can do is focus on myself and try to play my own game,” said Kim. “I’m excited to see what happens, and hopefully I can keep playing well and win this week. It would be a great boost for me.”
Kang still holds the PGA TOUR Series-China’s all-time 72-hole scoring record and is looking to earn full playing rights this week and emulate his 2016 season, where he finished third on the Tour’s Order of Merit, before playing on the Web.com Tour for two years, in 2017 and 2018.
Kang was slightly disappointed to card a 68 after an impressive, second-round 61. The 28-year-old is still optimistic he can overtake Kim in the final round.
“I didn’t capitalize on the par-5s and the drivable par-4s. It was a little tougher and windier, so I didn’t really have my momentum today like yesterday,” said Kang, who is eyeing the win. “Of course I think I can still catch him. I’m only two back, so let’s see.”
Japan’s Raiki Okamoto shot 65 to take solo sixth at 8-under, one ahead of America’s Henry Westmoreland IV (67). Two Americans Eric Beringer (70) and Nick Latimer (69) are tied for eighth at 5-under.
Bhurinat Songpaiboon (70) is the leading Thailand player, currently in a tie for 10th with England’s Mitchel Sarling (66) and America’s Dylan Healey (66).
Only the medalist this week will earn full status for the 14-event Tour season, while finishers 2-12 will earn status through the first six events. Finishers 13-35 (and ties) will be conditionally exempt through the first six events.
Did you know that Dongmin Kim reached a high of 53 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He also represented South Korea in the 2018 Asian Games and 2018 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. He finished top 25 in both.
• There is no cut this week.
• The high temperature Thursday was 93.
• There are five Americans currently in the top nine.
• There were 115 players in the field today from 18 nationalities.
• The course is a par-70 totalling 6,580 yards.
• Japan’s Narutoshi Yamaoka had a close call in 2018 on the Japan Golf Tour. After opening with rounds of 65-70-67, he was tied for first with PGA TOUR veteran Ryo Ishikawa with 18 holes to play at the Dunlop Srixon Fukushima Open. Yamaoka played well on the final day, shooting a second consecutive 67, but he watched as Shota Akiyoshi fired a 64 to come from behind and win by a shot.
• Dongmin Kim was born and resides in Daegu, South Korea.
• Henry Westmoreland IV, alone in seventh through 54 holes, was teammates with Chandler Blanchet at the University of West Florida. Blanchet recently earned his PGA TOUR Latinoamerica card after playing the 2018 season in Canada, on the Mackenzie Tour.
• Nick Latimer was originally a walk-on at Kent State University. He eventually earned a scholarship to the Ohio school, where he was a teammate with Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, currently a PGA TOUR member.
• South Korea’s Dongmin Kim is currently on track to earn a full Tour card. In the first two Global Qualifying Tournaments, no amateur earned guaranteed starts.
• The next-closest amateur to leader Dongmin Kim is Australian James Grierson, who is in a tie for 47th.
• Eric Beringer played six PGA TOUR Latinoamerica tournaments in 2016, with two made cuts that season. His best finish was a 35th-place showing at the Guatemala Stella Artois Open outside Antigua.
• Dongmin Kim is planning on turning pro at the conclusion of this event.
• Alex Kang still holds a couple of PGA TOUR Series-China scoring records. At the 2016 Cadillac Championship at Poly Golf Club Chengdu, Kang finished at 29-under 259, the best 72-hole score in Tour history. His middle rounds of 61-62 is the record for the best 36 holes, and he’s one of three players to shoot 61 in an official round. Gunn Charoenkul and Pariya Junhasavasdikul, both in 2014, are the others.
• In 2018, Alex Kang made the cut in eight of 22 Web.com Tour events, his best finish a tie for sixth at the Mexico Championship one year ago this week.
• Stuart Macdonald is playing in Asia for the first time in his career. The former Purdue University golfer is tied for third through 54 holes. Macdonald plays out of Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, British Columbia, site of the Mackenzie Tour’s season-opening event each year.
• Stuart Macdonald was a 2018 Web.com Tour member, with 20 starts. He only made four cuts in his rookie season, his best finish a tie for 39th at the Mexico Championship.
• A year ago, Eric Beringer, a University of Colorado product, was the second-round leader at the Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament outside Phoenix after opening 69-69. He eventually tied for 16th but didn’t play in any 2018 Mackenzie Tour tournaments. Now Beringer is tied for eighth after opening rounds of 66-69-70.
• Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jr., son of current PGA TOUR Champions and European Tour player Miguel Angel Jimenez is in the field this week. He is tied for 70th after rounds of 72-72-77.
• Bhurinat Songpaiboon is the leading Thailand player in the field. He is tied for 10th after rounds of 70-67-70. Songpaiboon played four years at Washington State University.
• Australian Christopher Wood is holding down the 13th spot, one shot out of the 12th position that would secure him a guaranteed six starts at the beginning of the 2019 season. PGA TOUR Series-China is no stranger to Wood, who has 13 career starts—11 of them coming in 2016. That season, Wood finished 60th on the Order of Merit.
• A year ago, Christopher Wood played in two PGA TOUR Series-China tournaments, making one cut, at the Guilin Championship. He tied for 34th following four under-par rounds. In 10 PGA Tour of Australasia appearances in 2018, Wood enjoyed three top-10s. His best finish was a tie for fourth at the SP PNG Golf Open in Papua New Guinea. Last December, he tied for 16th with PGA TOUR veterans Harold Varner and Robert Allenby, among others, at the Australian PGA Championship.
• Final round leaders will tee off at 12:15 p.m. off hole 1.
“It was windy today, but I hit it solid and was able to finish 3-under. I’m excited for tomorrow.” – Dongmin Kim
“I’m good friends with Taeho Kim, and we played on the Korean national team together. Hopefully I can play together with him in China this year.” – Dongmin Kim on last week’s Global Qualifying Tournament winner Taeho Kim.
“I don’t think the course suits my game that well. It’s not a great fit, but if I can hit it straight there are chances to score well.” – Dongmin Kim on the course
“I need to keep the ball in play and keep making putts. I think that will be the key to winning and also make more birdies.” – Alex Kang
“My putting has been the best part of my game this week. It’s been the part of my game that I’m most comfortable with at the moment. My putting and short game has been pretty good.” – Alex Kang
“I played not as good as I did in the previous two days. I think the course played a little harder today with the wind, and I didn’t make as many putts. My putter didn’t really get hot at all, but [Friday] will be better hopefully.” – Stuart Macdonald
“Obviously you want to finish top 12 and get some guaranteed starts, so that was the goal coming in and anything better than that is just cherry on top. So hopefully I can play well tomorrow and get that No. 1 spot.” – Stuart Macdonald
“[Friday] I’m going to stick to my game plan and hopefully hit it a little better and make a few more putts. We will see what happens.” – Stuart Macdonald
“I played on the Web(.comTour) last year with Alex [Kang] so I know him pretty well, and the amateur is playing awesome so that is really cool to see.” – Stuart Macdonald on playing partners Alex Kang and Dongmin Kim
“I hit it in the bunker on hole 7, the par-5, and I had to lay up. Then I hit a 7-iron in, and I hit a good shot that stayed under the wind to about nine feet and then made the putt for birdie.” – Stuart Macdonald
“The course is really good, and it’s in really great shape. The greens are rolling really good, and it’s a great layout.” – Stuart Macdonald on the course
“Honesty I don’t think I played that well today. I made a lot of bogeys, and [Wednesday] I also made some bogeys. That’s not good, but I still have a chance to win.” – Narutoshi Yamaoka
“When I needed to make birdies, I didn’t make them. Hopefully tomorrow can be better. I’m excited for tomorrow. I think I can play better golf and have a good day.” – Narutoshi Yamaoka
“I like the course here. I’ve played here a few times so I know the course pretty well.” – Narutoshi Yamaoka
“I was pretty consistent again today. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and took advantage of the par-5s and hit some good wedges. I just stayed patient, so it was a good day. Pretty ho-hum” – Jared Howard
“I had a strong finish. I made birdies on 5, 8, and 9 coming in. I told myself even today when I started on hole 11, those last five holes, you can make some birdies coming in so it’s definitely great momentum going into [Friday].” – Jared Howard
“I’m just going to go out [Friday] and play and have some fun. Then we will see where I stand at the end but I’m excited.” – Jared Howard