Travis Smyth 18 holes away from realising dream on Asian Tour

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Travis Smyth - TheGolfingHub
Travis Smyth came close to winning the International Series England in June when he finished second, and knows exactly what he wants on Sunday of the Yeangder TPC. Photo: Paul Lakatos/Asian Tour

Travis Smyth’s quest to win his first Asian Tour title gathered momentum when he took the third-round lead in the US$700,000 Yeangder TPC after shooting the best round of the day, a six-under-par 66, in testing wet and windy conditions.

The Australian, so often a presence on the leader board since the Asian Tour restarted last year, is 13 under for the tournament, with defending champion Lee Chieh-po from Chinese-Taipei (69) and Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat (71), the overnight leader, one shot back.

Related: Chapchai Nirat & Hsieh Cheng-wei, age has no bearing on excellence

Sweden’s Bjorn Hellgren (69) and Settee Prakongvech from Thailand (70) are a stroke further off the pace, at Linkou International Golf and Country Club.

 

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Chinese-Taipei’s latest junior sensation Hsieh Cheng-wei – who Friday became the youngest male player to make the cut on one of the game’s main Tours, aged 14 – slipped back with a 78 but was still the talk of the tournament after his incredible achievement.

Smyth, 27, came close to winning the International Series England in June when he finished second, and knows exactly what he wants tomorrow.

“A win. Simple as that, I want to win, I want the winners’ category,” he said. 

“I feel like I’m playing some pretty solid golf and I believe I can get it done.” 

He stormed out of the blocks today and was four under after four, thanks to an eagle on the par-five opening hole and birdies on three and four; he dropped his only shot on seven, and then settled into top spot with birdies on 10, 12 and 18.

 

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He added: “Very hot start, fighting the swirling wind all day, solid finish. The start was just unbelievable, four under through four. Yeah, you have some easy holes, but to actually do it when it’s windy and rainy and stuff, that just set the tone for the day. The wind was pretty tough all day, so I feel like if you had told me at the start of the day I would have shot three under, I would have been happy. But to shoot six that’s like a bonus.” 

Lee won here last year, although the tournament was not on the Asian Tour schedule due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic.

The event’s return to the Tour seems to have affected him little as he attempts to become the first player to successfully defend the prestigious tournament – which is the first event to be held in Chinese-Taipei in three years.

 

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He also got off to a fast start with birdies on the first three holes before three more birdies were off set by three bogeys. The inclement weather was a constant challenge for him.

Said Lee: “It wasn’t easy out there with the rain. It was hard to gauge the wind direction out there. The wind is the strongest compared to the last two rounds, but I think it’s the best I have played so far this week. 

“Expecting the same weather conditions tomorrow so I will really have to focus on getting the wind direction right. That will be the key. Not thinking too much about winning or defending my title. I had more thoughts on that at the start of the week but now, I’m just thinking about how to cope with the challenges out there.”