12/15/2018 2:46:23 PM

Stenson to battle with Poom at Indonesian Masters

Stenson to battle with Poom at Indonesian Masters

Jakarta, Indonesia: Henrik Stenson will have to battle with a player who has grown up idolising him after putting himself in a position to end a frustrating 2018 with a victory at the $750,000 Indonesian Masters.

The 42-year-old Swede has struggled with injuries this year which saw him take two long lay-offs, but moved to within three shots of Thailand's Poom Saksansin after carding a day's best score of four-under par 68 in extremely windy conditions at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club on Saturday.

Stenson finished on 13-under par 203 on a day when only three players broke 70, but the 25-year-old Poom, winner here in 2016, scrambled very well for a battling two-under par 70 and held his position on top of the leaderboard at 16-under par 200.

World number two Justin Rose, who is the defending champion, did his chances of regaining the top ranking in the world no harm with a solid, if frustrating at times, round of 71. The Englishman is seven shots behind the leader at nine-under par 207 and is tied fourth.

Rose needs to finish no worse than a two-way tie for the 16th place to regain the world number one spot from American Brooks Koepka. However, for him to retain the top ranking at the end of the year, he will have to finish better than a two-way tie for the 12th place.

Poom grabbed the lead with a nine-under par 63 in the second round on Friday, during which he made birdie putts from almost everywhere on the greens. He had done something similar in the EurAsia Cup earlier this year when he helped Asia take a point after beating the star European pairing of Stenson and Alex Levy.

Asked if he would take it easy on the young Poom on the final day, Stenson quipped: "Not at all, not if I have a chance. We will see if he can go easy on the old guy instead.

"He played fantastic in our first match at the EurAsia Cup. Him and his partner put up a string of eight straight birdies and we did not have (a) chance. I know he is a very capable player and he has shown that for the first three days here.

"There are others too. Rose knows how to shoot 62s here. I hope the conditions remain as windy and tough as today. That gives me a better chance. All I am looking for is to be within two or three shots of the leader going into the back nine, and we will see."

'Keep the ball in play' 

Stenson made a birdie on the par-5 second hole, but his real move came when the wind was at its peak. He made three straight birdies from the seventh hole onwards to close the gap on Poom.

However, in the space of minutes, the Thai player doubled his lead to four shots when he hit his second shot to within a foot for a birdie on the 14th hole and Stenson made a three-putt bogey from nearly 90 feet on the 15th. A closing birdie helped Stenson finish closer to the leader.

After making just one bogey as against three birdies, Poom said: "I am happy with the way I played today. It was really windy and very difficult out there. I tried my best to keep the ball in play.

"I am happy to play with Stenson tomorrow. I have been playing this course for the past five years and I have won here in 2016. I think I know this golf course pretty well. That will give me the advantage tomorrow."

The 2018 season of the Asian Tour comes to a close with the tournament. India's Shubhankar Sharma is already assured of winning the Order of Merit. He missed the cut in Jakarta but had done enough before the tournament to ensure nobody else can overtake him.

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