Shenzhen - Kiradech Aphibarnrat will take a two-shot lead into the final day of the Shenzhen International, but knows he should have a much bigger cushion after a disastrous close to his third round on Saturday.
The burly 25-year-old Thai, who started the day at eight-under par, was 15-under with a six-shot lead over playing partner Peter Uihlein of the US by the time the pair stood on tee at the par-five 17th.
Kiradech pulled his driver left into a fairway bunker. His third found more sand at the greenside and a poor splash shot left a 20-footer for par. The putt slid three feet past and he inexplicably missed a simple one back to record a double-bogey seven.
Meanwhile, Uihlein was enjoying some outrageous good fortune. He hooked his drive even further left than Kiradech but a ricochet off a golf cart and the path upon which it was parked catapulted his ball so far forward he could go for the putting surface with his second.
Despite coming up short of the green, a chip and a confident 18-footer for birdie meant the lead was suddenly reduced to three strokes.
Again Kiradech was wayward on 18 and failed to get up and down from right of the green as Uihlein tapped in for par.
Kiradech signed for a four-under par round of 68 and a 12-under total of 204 but his lead over Uihlein, who had led overnight by one, was down to two shots.
"The way I played 16 holes was great golf today," said Kiradech after his round. "It was mistake on the 17th, the bogey putt. I think it was like too easy, just knock it in, but that's golf."
He admitted he may have got complacent with such a big lead after trailing Uihlein by a stroke overnight.
"After great shots on 15 and 16 I was thinking the game is done," he added. "I missed a couple of putts, but I'm still in great shape."
Uihlein wasn't happy with his day's work despite a tidy finish to a round of 71. "I just made too many sloppy bogeys. Four bogeys is a bit rough," he said.
The round of the day belonged to 19-year-old Chinese number one Li Haotong, who thrilled the spectators at Genzon Golf Club in the southern Chinese city with a seven-under par 65 to rise into a share of eighth place on 209.
It was matched only by Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, who took sole possession of third place with a total of nine-under 207 after his own 65.
Li, the world number 189, was playing for the third day running in the vaunted company of fourth ranked Bubba Watson, but he comprehensively outshone the double Masters champion who stuttered to a two-over 74 after both started the day at even par.
Kiradech has shown good form this year, finishing in the top six at the US PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Now he wants to add to his sole European Tour victory which came at the 2013 Malaysian Open.
"I'll try to do the same thing tomorrow. Get the score low and get the job done," he said. "I made a bad finish, but after I go to sleep tomorrow is a new day."
Leading scores on Saturday after the third round of the European Tour's Shenzhen International at Genzon Golf Club, Shenzhen, China (par 72):
204 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 67-69-68
206 - Peter Uihlein (USA) 67-68-71
207 - Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 73-69-65
208 - Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 71-67-70, Matt Ford (ENG) 69-69-70, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 70-69-69, Scott Hend (AUS) 70-70-68
209 - Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) 73-69-67, Darren Fichardt (RSA) 68-70-71, Y.E. Yang (KOR) 72-71-66, Tom Lewis (ENG) 72-71-66, Li Haotong (CHN) 71-73-65
210 - David Howell (ENG) 71-70-69, Huang Wenyi (CHN) 66-74-70, Alexander Levy (FRA) 71-70-69, Anthony Wall (ENG) 69-72-69
211 - Marco Crespi (ITA) 69-70-72, Gregory Havret (FRA) 70-68-73, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 72-70-69, Ross Fisher (ENG) 69-74-68, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 72-71-68, Richie Ramsay (SCO) 72-73-66
212 - Richard Bland (ENG) 71-71-70, Jorge Campillo (ESP) 72-71-69, Fan Zhipeng (CHN) 70-72-70, Romain Wattel (FRA) 69-74-69, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 71-74-67
Selected: 218 - Bubba Watson (USA) 70-74-74