sport

Slender lead for rookie Smith

Australian rookie Cameron Smith is in pole position heading into the final round of the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters.

But Smith will be under pressure after his 67 gave him a slender one-shot lead.

In just his second start on the Asian Tour after a fine amateur career, Smith posted a five-under-par 67 in the third round to finish on 14-under-par.

India's Anirban Lahiri displayed the qualities that made him a EurAsia Cup hero when he fired a flawless 64 to trail Smith by one in second place while compatriot Rashid Khan was equally impressive as he also matched Lahiri's effort with a 64 to take third place.

Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, meanwhile signed for a 65 to take fourth place on 205 total at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

Smith earned his Asian Tour card when he finished tied-18th at Qualifying School earlier this year, and after the 20-year-old missed the cut in his first professional event in the Philippines in March he has had a refreshing change of fortunes.

"I'm feeling good, pretty ecstatic right now. I am actually leading a professional tournament for the first time!" said Smith.

"I started off a bit slow. The eagle on the ninth kept the birdies coming. That was the highlight of the day as I holed a pretty long putt. It has been great three rounds so far. I'll keep to the same game plan tomorrow which is to hit as many fairways and greens as I can and continue to putt well," added Smith.

Lahiri, a three-time Asian Tour winner, could be on the verge of landing his first title outside of India after he posted the day's lowest score together with Khan.

"It was a relief for me to actually play the kind of round that I did back home at the Delhi Golf Club. I've been playing very well and it's nice to finally see it reflecting on the leaderboard," said Lahiri.

Still riding high on confidence following his career breakthrough at the Asian Tour season-opening event in India, Khan was equally impressive as he marked his card with seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey.

"This is my third tournament on the Asian Tour and it really gives you a good boost when you've won a tournament. Everything looks easy after that win but you still have to score well to win a tournament," said Khan.

Tournament marquee names Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and France's Victor Dubuisson were forced to withdraw from the event because of a back and shoulder injury respectively.

"As much as I would love to, I cannot carry on playing at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters as I've hurt my back and I'm unable to swing my club," said Oosthuizen.

"The hospitality and the atmosphere at the event has been fantastic. I'm very disappointed and hope to be back again next year. I want to thank everyone concerned about my injury and I hope to recover soon."