Jeev one off lead, in contention at Nippon Series

December 6th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Dec 6 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh stuck to his task despite not finding the fairways and greens like the way he did on the first two days to keep himself in contention with one more round to go at the Nippon Series JT Cup Saturday. Jeev, who was leading after the second round, shot a 68 that carried him to eight-under 202 and one shot off the lead held by Thai Prayad Marksaeng (63) and local man Toshinori Muto (66).

At joint third with Jeev was crowd favourite and record-setting teenager Ryo Ishikawa, whose 66 included a chip-in birdie on the par-3 15th. Also tied for third was tour veteran Taichi Teshima (65). Kaname Yokoo was another shot back after a 67.

The 36-year-old Jeev, who is 44th in the world and currently leads the Asian Money list, had two birdies, two bogeys and an eagle in his round.

Jeev opened with five straight pars and then landed an eagle on sixth followed by a birdie on seventh at which stage he was nine-under. A bogey on the ninth was followed by another bogey on the 11th. But he did salvage a little with a birdie on the 15th and then closed with three more pars.

“I am just one behind and it is nice to be in contention,” said Jeev, who has been paired with Yokoo and the 17-year-old Ishikawa in the final round.

Jeev struggled off the tees as he found just 43 percent fairways but was slightly better on the fairways finding 67 percent greens in regulation.

Jeev has won once at Sega Sammy Invitational and finished sixth at the Crowns in two of his only three other appearances in Japan this year. In 2006, Jeev won the Nippon Series JT Cup and was third last year.

Prayad, who has won three times this season in Japan, opened his round with three consecutive birdies, added two more before the turn and picked up two shots coming in as he carded a flawless 63 and moved to nine-under 201 at Tokyo Yomiuri Country Club.

Muto had three birdies and as many bogeys through 10 holes before four birdies in the next seven holes lifted him into a tie for the lead.

Shingo Katayama, who last week secured his fifth Japan Money List title, had a 69 to tie for 12th at 4-under.

The field features this year’s tournament winners and players who are in the top-25 on the money list through last week’s Casio World Open. The Nippon Series winner Sunday will earn 30 million yen out of the 100 million yen purse.

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