Le Vesconte races into lead at Brunei Open


BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, AFP

Australia’s Adam Le Vesconte enjoyed a blistering finish to stretch his overnight lead to four shots at the US$300,000 Brunei Open on Saturday.

Le Vesconte, bidding for his second Asian Tour title, birdied two of his last three holes en route to a three-under par 68 at the Empire Hotel and Country Club. He leads Taiwan’s Lu Wen-teh and the in-form Tony Lascuna of the Philippines, who both fired matching 66s.

Lin Wen-tang, also from Taiwan, is fourth, six off the lead after battling to a 71 while compatriot and title holder Wang Ter-chang also carded a 71 to lie nine back.

On a sun-kissed day, Le Vesconte, who led by three at the halfway stage after shooting a pair of 65s, parred his opening 10 holes before nailing his first birdie on the 11th.

With the chasing pack closing in, he sunk a crucial 25-foot birdie putt at the par three 16th before rolling in another eight-footer on the last for a comfortable lead.

“It wasn’t quite solid as in the first two days as I didn’t make many putts. I hit a few wayward shots but got away with some up and downs for pars a couple of times. I also shot even par on the front nine on Thursday and shot six birdies on the back, so I knew there were birdies out there,” said Le Vesconte, who holds a three-day total of 15-under-par 198.

It will be the second week in succession that the Aussie will play in the final group. At the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia, he faded to finish tied 10th but Le Vesconte will be eager to set the record right by adding to his lone triumph at the 2005 Philippine Open.

“You can never be too comfortable. Four shots is a nice little buffer. Hopefully I can go out there and do the same as I did today and hope that it’s enough. I just need to stick to my game plan,” said Le Vesconte.

Veteran Lu, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, charged up the leaderboard with five birdies over his opening six holes and was six under through 11 before the birdies dried up.

“I played really well. It is a pity I didn’t get many birdies on the back nine. My shots into the 17th and 18th holes were a little disappointing as I dropped a bogey and made par. It hurt my chances,” said Lu, this year’s Macau Open champion.