Golfer Shiv Kapur closes in on victory in Japan

Tokyo: India's Shiv Kapur fired a two-under-par 69 to grab a one-stroke lead from Japan's Kodai Ichihara at the Panasonic Open after Saturday's third round.

After 14 straight pars, Kapur carded back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 to reach the clubhouse at nine-under 204 at the $1.25 million event sanctioned by the Japanese and Asian tours.

Overnight leader Ichihara, chasing a maiden career victory in Chiba, southeast of Tokyo, finished in regulation to lie one adrift with Australia's Marcus Fraser -- the current Order of Merit leader -- a further shot back after a 67.

Helped by a 40-foot save on the eighth hole, Kapur put himself in prime position to become the third Indian to win in Japan after Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa. "That save was a bonus and kept my head in it," said Kapur.

"You can't play average golf and win. I have to go out and play good golf." South Korea's K.T. Kim, bidding to win for the second week running, Taiwan's Hung Chien-yao, Korean Lee Sang-hee and Thailand's Khrongpha Thanyakorn were tied with Fraser at 206, along with Japan's Yuta Ikeda. -- Leading scores: 204 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 68-67-69 205 - Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 69-65-71 204 - Marcus Fraser (AUS) 71-68-67, K.T. Kim (KOR) 69-69-68, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 70-67-69, Khrongpha Thanyakorn (THA) 72-68-66, Yuta Ikeda (JPN) 67-73-66 208 - Hidemasa Hoshino (JPN) 67-74-67, Michio Matsumura (JPN) 71-69-68, Wang Jeung-hun (KOR) 71-68-69, Toshinori Muto (JPN) 71-67-70

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