Maarten Lafeber admitted he had thoughts of shooting a 59 as he took the UBS Hong Kong Open by storm on Saturday.
The Dutchman, level par at the start of the third round, produced an incredible 28 on the front nine at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling to send a buzz through the large crowds.
But Lafeber cooled off slightly on the back nine, mixing two bogeys with three more birdies. Even so, he still finished with an impressive 63 to leap into contention at seven-under for the tournament, four shots behind leader Simon Yates.
Lafeber confirmed that, at the halfway stage, he was thinking of a 59. “I’m not going to say I wasn’t! I was six under after nine holes and that was nine pretty difficult holes. I think the back nine is a little bit more forgiving but I made a stupid mistake on the 10th [a bogey five] and that knocked me a bit.
“I came back really good and gave myself a chance on nearly every hole but I just didn’t make the putts. I had a great chance at both the 15th and 16th and the last also. So, if ever there was a day to think about a 59, then this was it. I don’t think I have played much better tee to green all year.”
Lafeber added: “”I think that was probably my best round of the year in what will be my second-last round of the year – it was really good.
“I felt a little jet-lagged yesterday [Friday] and I felt tired this morning, so I thought to myself, ‘just go out and hit fairways and greens today and make a few putts’. I thought a couple under par would be a good score.
“But I got a really hot start [four straight birdies] and made all the putts. I made a huge putt on the fifth hole, the par three, for par and then I made good birdies on the sixth and the seventh too.”
Ireland’s Damien McGrane matched Lafeber’s 63 but in contrasting fashion, closing with four birdies on the last five holes to be eight under for the tournament.
“I made a good two putt on the first for par, which was a good two putt because it is a tricky green, and after that I was away,” said McGrane.
“I hit a lot of good shots close and every time I did I converted the putt. It was solid from start to finish.”
“It’s a game of momentum. If you can get on a roll you just go with it and see where it takes you. Today, I certainly got the momentum going right from the start and kept it going right the way through to the 18th green, which was nice.”