(Reuters) – Pat Perez moved within range of a second PGA Tour title in a year by firing an eight-under 64 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia to be four strokes clear heading into Sunday’s final round.
Overnight leader Perez, who broke a seven-year win drought at the OHL Classic in Mexico last November, was on a 21-under total of 195, four ahead of fellow American Xander Schauffele on a steamy day at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.
In search of his third Tour title, Perez scorched the course with six birdies on his back nine in a repeat of his second round effort on Friday, and dropped only a solitary shot on the par-four 13th.
The burly American shrugged off the bogey with consecutive birdies from the 14th to the 16th and rolled in another on the last hole to cap another putting masterclass at the $7 million co-sanctioned tournament.
Young gun Schauffele kept in touch with two birdies in his last three holes to post a second consecutive 67, with South Korea’s Kang Sung a stroke further behind on 16-under.
Japanese talent Hideki Matsuyama soared up the leaderboard with a 63 to be six behind Perez, on 15-under with American Keegan Bradley.
The world number three Matsuyama caught fire from the fourth, birdie-ing five consecutive holes before finishing with a run of three birdies from the 16th.
Justin Thomas’s hopes of making an early charge in his bid for a third consecutive title in Malaysia were dashed with a double-bogey on the par-five fifth. He finished the day 15 strokes adrift of Perez after shooting a 69.
Kim Meen-whee, the golf gold medalist at the 2010 Asian Games, chose the perfect time for a hole-in-one, his ace on the par-three 15th earning him a new BMW car from the sponsoring German auto maker. Kim was on two-under after shooting 71.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)