18-year-old Hideki Matsuyama from Japan leads the Asian Amateur Championship at Kasumigaseki Country Club by three shots after a third round of 65.

The first year student at Tohoku Fukushi University made seven birdies and just one bogey in his course record-equalling round. He climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a three-round total of 11-under-par.

In persistent rain, Matsuyama dealt well with the conditions to outscore his nearest rivals and put himself in an excellent position to win the title and secure an invite to the 2011 Masters and a place in International Final Qualifying for next year’s Open Championship.

“Today because of the heavy rain it was difficult, but I had three consecutive birdies to start which helped greatly,” he said. “Your body gets stiff in the rain and I kept stretching. I also tried to keep my grips dry. Tomorrow I will start out fresh and take every shot as it comes, I will try not to think about winning and the potential prizes.”

Matsuyama’s closest challenger is Tarquin MacManus of Australia. He fired a solid, bogey free, round of 67 to post a 54-hole total of eight-under-par, three back of Matsuyama.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with four-under in these conditions. You have to concentrate so hard in the wet and the rain, which makes it tough,” he said. “I’ve played really well the last two days and I just need to go out there do it again. I just need a couple more putts to drop and, if they do, who knows what can happen.”

First round leader Yosuke Asaji is a further three shots back in third place after a one-over-par round of 72.

Overnight leader Zhiqun Lam of Singapore had a day to forget as he struggled round in seven-over-par 78. He now lies in a tie for eighth place, 11 shots behind Matsuyama.

Leaderboard

1   Hideki Matsuyama (Jap)   (-11)
2   Tarquin MacManus (Aus)   (-8)
3   Yosuke Asaji (Jap)      (-5)
4   Kyung-hoon Lee (Kor)      (-4)
5   Kieran Pratt (Aus)      (-3)
T6   Tze Huang Choo (Sin)      (-1)
T6   Ben Campbell (NZ)      (-1)
T8   Zhiqun Lam (Sin)         (Even)
T8   Masahiro Kawamura (Jap)   (Even)
T8    Khalin Johsi (Ind)         (Even)