ANA Open Golf Tournament 2022

De Los Santos enjoys career high with maiden albatross while Ikeda continues to cruise ahead

De Los Santos enjoys career high with maiden albatross while Ikeda continues to cruise ahead

It was a day to savour for Justin De Los Santos when he hit the first-ever albatross of his career at the ANA Open Golf Tournament to shoot up the leaderboard after the third round on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Filipino put himself in contention for a third top-10 finish of the season with a four-under-par 68 that leaves him on 11-under for the week at the Sapporo Golf Club in Hokkaido.

De Los Santos will head into the final round in a tie for the ninth spot and seven shots adrift leader Yuta Ikeda.

De Los Santos holed out from the fairway with his 270-yard three-iron finding the bottom of the cup to see him card two on the par-five, 541-yard ninth hole.

It took the loud cheers from the galleries for him to realise it had dropped into the hole.

"People were telling me...oh it went in. I didn't believe it at first, I didn't believe anyone until I saw the ball in the hole!" said the Los Angeles-based De Los Santos.

"It was pretty cool. I was about 270 to the pin, 245 front so I was thinking about hitting five-wood, but wasn’t sure if it’ll get there with the weather so I hit three-wood.

"I didn’t want it to go over then green, so I choked up on the club a little.

"I hit it exactly on my line and thought it landed in a good spot, but to me, it looked like the ball rolled over the green, so I didn’t really think much of it when I saw the ball disappear.

"It’s my first albatross so it was cool to do it in a tournament."

Prior to pulling off the stunning feat, De Los Santos had reeled off eight straight pars.

The three strokes gained with the albatross did help spark his game into life when he shot the first three birdies of the day in succession starting from the 12th.

His great run, however, came to a halt after conceding two straight bogeys on 15 and 16.

De Los Santos managed to redeem a shot back, but the effort was quickly undone when he ended the day with a third bogey.

With his confidence boosted, De Los Santos will be aiming to better his solo fourth result at the Gateway to The Open Mizuno Open in May.

His other top-10 finish was tied for sixth at the ISPS Handa Championship.

The next-best placed international was Dongkyu Jang of South Korea, who carded a 71 to be tied for 12th on 206.

Australia Matthew Griffin (68) and Thailand's Gunn Charoenkul (71) are also in line for a top-10 finish at a further shot back.

Ikeda will take a three-shot lead into the final round after signing for a 70 for 18-under 198, edging closer to the 22nd title of his career.

Besides a victory, Ikeda has thrown down the gauntlet to himself to also smash Masashi 'Jumbo' Ozaki's tournament record in 1994.

The tournament record is 20-under (held by Ozaki when he won his sixth title in 1994), so I definitely want to break it en route to winning the championship," said Ikeda.

He's set to continue his battle with Shugo Imahira, who overcame two early bogeys to salvage an even-par 72 and keep his hopes of winning his third title of the season alive.

Tomoharu Otsuki and Mikumu Horikawa both returned 68 and 70 to share the third spot at five shots back.