At the end of the third day of the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open, Bangladesh's hopes of an elusive home winner on the Asian Tour seemingly became ever-so difficult as young Thai talent Sadom Kaewkanjana took an assured step towards a breakthrough victory.
The rookie Thai golfer signed off for a three-under-par (68) at the Kurmitola Golf Club to take a two-shot lead, with Bangladesh's best hope Siddikur Rahman seven shots behind in joint-fourth position.
Rashid Khan of India stayed in contention for his third Asian Tour title after firing four-under-par (67) while Bangladesh's Akbar hossain returned a card of 69 to end the day in joint-seventh position.
The 20-year-old Sadom, who is making his first start on Tour after coming through the Qualifying School last December, marked his card with four birdies against a bogey to stay atop the leaderboard with an 18-under-par (195) total.
Sadom is chasing to become the third Thai player following Thitiphun Chuayprakong (2016) and Jazz Janewattananond (2017) to win the National Open of Bangladesh.
Should he accomplish the feat on Sunday, he would also become the record fastest Qualifying School graduate to win on the Asian Tour. However, he is keeping his feet firmly grounded.
“I remembered finishing second in a tournament here when I was an amateur four years ago. Good memories coming back here,” the young Thai told Asiantour.com after the day's play.
“I won't be thinking much about tomorrow. My aim for this season is to keep my card but I will try my best tomorrow,” added Sadom.
Sadom's overnight three-shot lead was reduced to two by his Rashid, who narrowed the gap after carding a bogey-free (67), highlighted by an eagle and two birdies.
“Rashid played well but I told myself to just focus on my game. My goal was just to hit fairways and greens and make putts. If I can hit the fairway, it will be easier,” Sadom said.
Local hopes, though, remains firmly on the shoulders of two-time winner Siddikur, who enjoyed his second bogey-free round, but not still good enough to mount a serious challenge for the title.
He was, however, happy with his effort, except for his putting, which he felt went cold in the third round.
“It's great to shoot another bogey-free round. Everything was good today except my putting. I didn't putt as well as I did in the last two rounds. But I hit the ball well again and my second shots were good too. I managed to hit it close to the pins but left some putts out there,” Siddikur said.
“I hope to make more putts tomorrow and jump up a little bit higher on the leaderboard. This is the fifth year we're playing in my National Open on the Asian Tour. To be honest, the main difference for me so far is that I am not feeling the pressure that I felt in the past. This time, I feel more comfortable and I don't take pressure at all honestly,” Siddikur added.
Akbar stayed two shots behind Siddikur after exchanging three birdies for a bogey while Sajib Ali was further four shots behind after settling for a one-over-par (72) in the third round.