Aussies Smyth and Sinnott contending for Asian Tour win

Travis Smyth's hot putter and Todd Sinnott's resilience has put the two Australians in with a shout of ending their Asian Tour season with a big-money triumph in Saudi Arabia.

Smyth shot the second best round of the day at the Saudi Open, his seven-under-par 64 putting him right in contention going into the final round of the $US1 million ($A1.5 million) season-ending event in Riyadh

Sinnott, joint-leader overnight, then recorded three birdies on the inward stretch at the Riyadh Golf Club to re-energise his challenge with a 69 and ensure that both Australians are just two shots off the lead, held by Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai at 12 under. ย 

Khongwatmai shot a four-under 67 to take a one-shot lead over his compatriot Denwit Boriboonsub, who's shooting for a third win in successive weeks.

Smyth, Sinnott and India's Veer Ahlawat, who shot a 66, are in joint-third place with Sweden's former British Open champion Henrik Stenson also in with a chance of scooping the title on Sunday after a 67 left him tied for sixth with three others on nine under.

Khongwatmai, who began the day in a share of the lead with Boriboonsub and Sinnott, has earned the advantage after recording three straight birdies from the 10th hole, only to see his three-stroke lead narrowed with a nervy finish to his round.

Smyth, a 28-year-old from Shellharbour who's had a fine season as the leading Australian on the Asian Tour, currently seventh in the Order of Merit, enjoyed a dream day with the putter.

โ€œYeah, it was amazing," Smyth, who played in the original LIV event in London last year as well as other events on the Saudi-based tour, told the tour's official website.ย 

"For the last three months I feel like the putter has been letting me down, and today I hit some okay shots, but I was getting lucky, Iโ€™ll be honest.ย 

"I was holing like 20-footers, 40-footers, I think I even holed a 50-footer as well. So it was a little bit of luck, but it felt amazing. Especially with the last few months that Iโ€™ve had, it just felt unreal.โ€

Smyth's biggest claim to fame this year was when he became the first man ever to hole in one on the newly-created 17th hole at Royal Liverpool during the British Open, but a win in Riyadh would be a fresh career highlight.

Melbourne's Sinnott had a bogey at the short sixth as his challenge seemed to stall over the first nine but the 31-year-old Victorian, who's 58th on the Order of Merit and has to stay in the top-65 to keep his tour card, then birdied the 10th, 13th and 16th to give himself a good chance of a second Asian Tour win.

Fellow Australians Scott Hend, who shot a fine 66, and Douglas Klein (70) were both at five under for the championships in joint-25th place.


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