Shenzhen, China (SportsNetwork.com) - Kiradech Aphibarnrat dropped three strokes in the final two holes on Saturday, but it was his scorching front nine that helped him take a 2-shot lead after three rounds at the inaugural Shenzhen International.
Aphibarnrat, who will go for his second European Tour title on Sunday, carded a 4-under 68 to end 54 holes at 12-under-par 204 at Genzon Golf Club.
Second-round leader Peter Uihlein posted an up-and-down, 1-under 71. He dipped into second place at minus-10. Pablo Larrazabal matched the low round of the day with his 7-under 65. The Spaniard flew into third place at 9-under 207.
Matt Ford and Emiliano Grillo both shot 2-under 70 in round three. They are tied for fourth at minus-8 with Scott Hend (68) and Tommy Fleetwood (69).
Former PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang (66) headlines a group of five players tied for eighth place at 7-under-par 209.
Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson stumbled to his second straight 74, which dropped him into a tie for 58th at 2-over-par 218.
Aphibarnrat and Uihlein played together in the third round. The pair both opened with birdies at the first. Aphibarnrat followed with a birdie at the second, while Uihlein tripped to a bogey.
The 2-shot swing gave Aphibarnrat a 1-stroke lead, and he pushed his advantage to two with his third straight birdie at the third. He wrapped bogeys at the fifth and seventh around a birdie on No. 6.
Aphibarnrat caught fire starting with a birdie at the eighth. He followed with birdies on each of the next three holes. He carded his final birdie at the 13th to move to minus-15.
The 25-year-old Thai was four clear at that point and he ran off three pars in a row from the 14th. Trouble loomed, however, as Aphibarnrat stumbled to a double-bogey at the par-5 17th. He dropped another shot at the last to end two ahead of Uihlein.
"I've been striking the ball so well in the first three rounds. It's a good way to start. First, I made three straight birdies to jump up at the top. I was still hitting the ball great on the back. Then, I made a big mistake on last two holes, not the way to finish," Aphibarnrat stated.
"I lost the focus on the short putt on 17. That is the big turn, the big key for me after Peter made birdie, and we swung three shots on that. That's a big move. But I made a mistake and I lost some concentration."
Uihlein followed his bogey at the second with six consecutive pars. He birdied the par-5 ninth for the third straight day en route to making the turn at minus-10.
The 2010 U.S. Amateur winner tripped to a bogey at the 10th, but came right back with a birdie on No. 11. He birdied the 13th to stay within four, but bogeys at 14 and 15 dropped Uihlein six behind.
As Aphibarnrat made a mess of the 17th, Uihlein made birdie there for the third consecutive day. He parred the last to end two back.
"I just made too many sloppy bogeys. Four bogeys, a bit rough, five birdies and missed a couple pretty easy ones," admitted Uihlein.
NOTES: Aphibarnrat was the 54-hole leader at the Malaysian Open in 2010 and again in 2013, and he went 1-1 with those two leads ... Aphibarnrat has done all of his damage on the front nine this week as he has played the back nine in even-par with five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey ... Uihlein is also looking for his second European Tour title.