Matt Fitzpatrick levels out to fall seven shots behind new leader Clement Sordet

Matt Fitzpatrick
Matt Fitzpatrick

MATT FITZPATRICK'S attempt to end a phenomenal first season on tour with victory in Asia was becalmed by a level-par 72 in the third round of the Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club.

The Sheffielder had two disparate nines - two birdies had him out in two under but two bogeys on the way home put him back level for the day - and he finished at his halfway mark of nine under. However, he remains inside the top 10 in seventh place.

He is seven shots back of France's Clement Sordet, who took over as leader from Wales' Jamie Donaldson by emulating the Welshman's first-round nine-under-par 63 to take a two-shot lead with a round to go.

Donaldson shot a 71 while England's Lee Westwood was just one shot worse than Sordet on the day to move into third place on 13 under for the week.

Sordet, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, the 23-year-old stuck to his patient game plan before compiling a three-day total of 16-under-par 200 for a two-shot lead over Wales’ Jamie Donaldson, who had led the opening two rounds at the US$1 million Asian Tour event.

Westwood remains on target for his Thailand Golf Championship treble as he made his move with a 64 to take third place.

Sordet, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, only joined the professional ranks in July and clinched his first victory in his fourth start in Northern Ireland the following month.

“Hopefully I can sleep well tonight. I’ll try not take a nap this afternoon so I can sleep well tonight," he said.

“It’s pretty much my dream to play with the top players in the field. I’ll do that tomorrow and hopefully I’ll enjoy it and just play my own game."

Starting the day in eighth place, Sordet sprinted to the turn in 31, but it was his eagle-three and birdies on 15 and 17 which gave him the most satisfaction.

“The eagle was a highlight as I made a bogey there on the first day and also the birdie on 17 - it was sweet revenge after I made a stupid triple there yesterday,” said Sordet.

Donaldson stumbled with an opening bogey, but did enough to hold onto his lead at the turn after making three birdies on holes two, five and seven.

However, his fortunes changed after a double-bogey six on 12.

“I played nicely through quite a few holes, getting my momentum swinging back my way," said Donaldson.

"I was cruising until 12, which was a killer. When I got onto the tee, the shot just wasn’t there. I made a double and suddenly I went from feeling great, to ‘Hang on a minute. Where’s this going?'"

The Welshman managed to steady the ship coming home and although he had to relinquish the lead he had held over the last two days, Donaldson knows the fight is far from over.

“There are some tough holes coming in and I saved a few shots on the way in. It hasn’t been what I wanted today but tomorrow’s another day and I just have to get off to a quick start.

"I’ve done enough to stay in the tournament."

After rounds of 71 and 68, Westwood burst into life with a sparkling 64 where his only blemish of the day came at the par-5 seventh where he dropped a shot.

“I was confident and in control and it has got to do with being on a course on which I’ve won twice before," he said.

“I hit it close a lot today and I played with a new putter. It feels a lot more stable and I’m rolling the ball quite nicely with it,” added the 2011 and 2014 Thailand Championship winner.

The former world No 1 believes it will be a close fight till the end with the quality of the field on show this week.

“I’m still three behind and I've got to shoot a really low score tomorrow,” said Westwood.