Kshitij Naveed Kaul, Shankar Das joint 3rd round leader at Pune Open

Harpal Singh Bedi

Pune:  Late  flourish by teenager Kshitij Naveed Kaul (66) of Delhi and former champion ankar Das (67) of Kolkata,enabled them to  move into the joint lead at 11-under-202 in round three of the TATA Steel PGTI’s Pune Open Golf Championship at the Poona Club Golf Course  here on Thursday..

Panchkula-based Angad Cheema (67) climbed third place at 10-under-203 at the end  of the penultimate  round of  the Rs. 30 lakh event.

Delhi’s Kapil Kumar equaled the course record with a stunning  eight-under-63 to move  up overnight tied 35th to tied 10th at six-under-207.

All the three joint leaders from round two slipped on day three. While N Thangaraja (71) of Sri Lanka dropped to sixth and eight-under-205, Lucknow’s Sanjeev Kumar (73) slipped to tied 10th at six-under-207 and Bengaluru’s Jaibir Singh (76) ended the day in tied 17th at three-under-210.

Eighteen-year-old Kshitij Naveed Kaul (69-67-66), lying tied fifth and two off the lead at the halfway stage, moved up four spots in round three to stake his claim for a maiden title.

Kaul, made a slow start on Thursday with a bogey on second. He managed to pull one back before the turn as he chipped-in for birdie on the eighth.

He  was then on fire on the back-nine as he produced five birdies on the last six holes with three of them coming as a result of conversions from a range of 15 to 35 feet.

“My approach shots and putting helped me score well today. I had a slow start but I more than made up on the back-nine. Even though it’s my rookie season on the PGTI, but I feel I’ve now settled down well and am not overawed by situations” he said

Shankar Das (68-67-67), lying one off the lead in fourth at the halfway stage, also enjoyed a late surge like Kaul. Shankar made pars all the way till the 13th before picking up four shots on the last five holes.

Shankar,winner here in 2017, birdied the 14th and 15th and then sank a brilliant 15-footer for eagle on the 18th.

 

“I began well as I missed out on a birdie by a whisker on the first where my bunker shot just touched the hole and went past. At that point I knew I would have a good round. The final stretch was just incredible and gave me loads of confidence. I now go into the last round with the good memories of having won at this venue back in 2011.” he said

 

Angad Cheema, who won his only title in his rookie season in 2013, climbed two spots to third place after returning a card that featured five birdies and a bogey. Cheema was consistent and kept the errors out and the highlight of his day was driving the green on the par-4 14th.

Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed and Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra were tied for fourth at nine-under-204.

Kapil Kumar’s round consisting of nine birdies and a bogey helped him match the course record of 63, a number also shot in round one by Ahmedabad-based Samarth Dwivedi.

There are now six joint course record holders also including the likes of C Muniyappa (2014 PGTI Qualifying School Final Stage), Chikkarangappa (2006), S Madaiah (2005) and Vijay Kumar (2004).

Pravin Pathare (69) was the highest placed Pune golfer in tied 25th at even-par-213.The five other local  professionals, Pravin Pathare, Sagar Raghuvanshi, Rajiv Datar and Sameer Shaikh  were all  tied 35th at two-over-144 as well as Akshay Damale (tied 44th at three-over-145.

Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta,  title winner here in 2016`, ended the day in tied  lowly 50that six-over-219.

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