Harpal Singh Bedi
Gurugram: Chikkarangappa S fired six-under-66 to keep Indians hopes alive as seven other home challengers struggled to keep afloat while it turned out to be last hole blues for leader Julian Suri on the third and penultimate day of the US$ 1.75 million Hero Indian Open at the demanding DLF Golf & Country Club here on Saturday..
Only three of eight Indians in fray- Chikkarangappa (six-under), Shubhankar Sharma (one-under) and SSP Chawrasia (one-under), shot under-par scores.
Overnight leader Julian Suri looked set to consolidate his lead at the top as he was 13-under with three bogeys against six birdies but on the last hole he fumbled and carded a double bogey to finish the round one under 71 and was forced to share of the lead with England’s Callum Shinkwin who returned 4 under 68. Both totaled 11 under 205 at the end of the third day.
“I think a couple of the mistakes I made today where after long waits on the tee box and that was quite a long wait on 18. No excuses, totally my fault and I need to compose myself better and I think that is a bit of a learning curve for me after being out of tournament golf for a while now.” Suri said
“You have to be on your game at all times. Any slip up or anything can be pretty penal. I am feeling good with my overall game despite 18 there, the game feels good. I know Callum played well today. I knew that the putt on 18 was to keep a share of the lead which was big for me to make that and I will hopefully take some of that momentum into tomorrow, he added.
The 25-year-old Chikka, an Asian Tour regular and two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), seems to be the only Indian with some hope going into the final round as he is now placed tied sixth at six-under-210, five behind the joint leaders Julian Suri and Callum Shinkwin
Chikka’s third round exploits lifted him 35 places from his overnight tied 41st.
Two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar Sharma produced a hard-fought one-under-71 to move up four places to tied 15th at three-under-213 at the
Chikkarangappa (74-70-66) has been experiencing a career revival since November last year.
Over the last five months, he has won two events on the PGTI and also finished runner-up at an Asian Tour event that helped him seal his card in Asia for 2019.
Chikka carried his form into the Indian Open as was evident from his third round performance. Today he had a dream start as he struck the ball to perfection from the very outset and as a result conjured birdies on the first, second and fourth.
His putting was the highlight as he picked up four more birdies on the ninth, 10th, 11th and 13th. This stretch saw him make a couple of 12-feet birdie conversions. He finally dropped his only bogey of the day on the 17th.
“I started really well and that set the tone for the rest of the day. My ball-striking was right up there as I hit almost all greens in regulation and found all fairways. The putting was also sharp “Chikka said after his round.
“I will take seven birdies and a bogey on this golf course any day. This is my best round at this course and almost feels like a course record.
“I’ve been in good touch since late last year and that helped my confidence coming into this tournament. I just feel good about all aspects of my game at the moment.
“As for the last round, I just need to enjoy myself on the course and play with no expectations. Hopefully, the rest should fall in place.”
Shubhankar Sharma (69-73-71) recovered well after an early double-bogey on the second to shoot a brave 71. Sharma came up with five birdies and two bogeys between the fifth and 18th to close the day with a respectable score.
Rashid Khan dropped two places to tied 21st after a 72 on Saturday. His score read two-under-214.
Former champion SSP Chawrasia was tied 47th at one-over-217 while Ajeetesh Sandhu was a further shot back in tied 54th.
Gaurav Pratap Singh occupied tied 59th place at three-over-219, Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 63rd at four-over-220 and Rahil Gangjee was tied 66th at five-over-221.