Michael Hoey drops off pace in Thailand Classic

Michael Hoey
Michael Hoey

Northern Ireland’ss Michael Hoey has dropped off the pace to slip to a tie for 27th place in the Thailand Classic.

Hoey, who led the event after an excellent first round, fired a one-over 73 on Saturday and is seven under after three rounds.

He registered a birdie on Saturday at the fifth but bogeys on 10, 12 and 15 stifled his progress.

Ireland’s Damien McGrane is one under after a 74.

Australian Scott Hend moved into a one-shot lead going into the final round of the inaugural even and is holding off the challenge of the man he took that title off, Miguel Angel Jimenez, and local favourite Thongchai Jaidee.

A third-round 66 moved Hend to 15 under with a bogey on the last the only blemish on his card.

Birdies at the second and seventh saw him reach the turn in 32 but it was on the back-nine where he hit his straps, posting three birdies and an eagle before a disappointing finish.

“It was a good round and puts me in a good position,” he said. “I played very solidly and putted quite well. I only made one mistake so it was pretty good.”

He added: “This is where you want to be, in the last group on a Sunday. I’ll be playing with Thongchai again and Miguel so it’ll be a good little test tomorrow.

“I’m very lucky and privileged to be playing golf for a living and being in contention on Sundays is what we’re all trying to do.”

Jimenez had been battling a heavy cold on Friday but still managed to fire a 66 and he followed that up with a 69.

Birdies on two, 10 and 17 lit up a steady round for the 51-year-old Spaniard who will be looking to break his own record as the Tour’s oldest winner on Sunday.

“I’m playing well and hitting it well,” he said. “I missed a few putts I’m creating lots of chances.

“I’ve played three rounds with Kiradech and tomorrow I’ll play with Thongchai - it’s good for the tournament to have the Thai guys in contention.”

Jaidee also had a bogey-free round as five birdies saw him sign for a 67 while countryman Kiradech Aphibarnrat was a further shot back.

Three Australians were then sat on 11 under as Andrew Dodt, Richard Green and Wade Ormsby shared a tie for fifth with Sweden’s Alex Noren.