By Asian Tour
Lin, who started the day two shots off the lead, raised the local cheers when he opened with five straight birdies before closing with two more birdies to take his place atop the leaderboard.
His three-day total of 16-under-par 200 would mark the lowest 54-hole score recorded in the tournament which has been played annually at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club since it was inaugurated in 2010.
“It was nice to finish with two birdies and a bogey-free round. I had a nice par save on the ninth hole. I hit it left and had to punch out from the rough. But I hit it too hard from there and injured my wrist. My wrist didn’t feel good after that so I did some stretching and it got better,” said the 45-year-old Lin who has enjoyed three top-five finishes in the event in 2011, 2012 and 2016. He had uncharacteristically missed the halfway cuts in the last two editions. Lin has never missed a single edition since the tournament was inaugurated in 2010.
“I will stick to my own tempo tomorrow. I don’t want to give myself any pressure. I will take it one shot at a time. The round started off a good note today. Hamamoto came up to me and said he’s very happy to play with me and he remembered the shot I made to win the Hong Kong Open back in 2008. I felt good that someone still knows me and remembers that shot (laughs),” added Lin who claimed two top-10s last year. He came in tied-second at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters and finished tied-ninth at the Queen’s Cup 2018 hosted by Jaidee Foundation in Thailand.
Overnight co-leader Yikeun Chang of Korea extended his advantage to three after sinking his eighth birdie of the day to go to six-under, but a costly double-bogey resulting from an unlucky break on the last saw him sign for an eventual 68.
The 25-year-old Chang, chasing for his breakthrough win on the Asian Tour, trails Lin by one shot in second place alongside local hotshot Chan Shih-chang, who also returned with a 68, at the US$500,000 event, which is celebrating its 10th consecutive edition this week.
Promising rookie Kosuke Hamamoto of Thailand posted a flawless 68 to settle three shots off the pace in fourth while countryman Phachara Khongwatmai moved into fifth place on 204 after matching the lowest round of the day with Lin with his 65.
“It is actually a pretty good sign that my results are getting better week after week as that definitely gives me and my team a lot of confidence in what we’re working on. I think it’s just getting used to the environment and everything,” said the Thai-Japanese Kosuke.
“I turned pro at the end of 2018 so this is my first full season. I think everybody is just very good on Tour but I was lucky enough during the national teams I got some invites into some Asian tour events and local tour events, which gave me the experience in professional events. So when I came out here, I kind of knew what to expect,” he added.