Round three of the IndianOil SERVO Masters Golf 2017 saw the emergence of Bengaluru’s M Dharma as a prime contender for the title.

Dharma carded a three-under-69 at the idyllic Digboi Golf Links on Friday to rise from overnight third place and become the joint leader along with Delhi’s Shamim Khan (71) at seven-under-209.

 

Youngsters Manu Gandas (68) of Gurgaon and Delhi-based Veer Ahlawat (69), both 21 years of age, were a shot adrift in tied third place at six-under-210 at the Rs. 40 lakh event.

M Dharma’s (68-72-69) quality ball-striking helped him capitalize on the par-5s on Friday that in turn took him to the top of the pack. The man with four top-10s this year, all achieved in the last two months, began the day with a bogey on the first but then rallied with five birdies over the next 10 holes.

Dharma, a winner on the PGTI in 2013, looked set to take the outright lead when he stumbled with three bogeys on the back-nine, all coming as a result of missed chip-putts from around the green. However, the 31-year-old did knock in a 25-feet eagle putt on the 15th that helped him end the day as joint leader.

Dharma, currently 13th on the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “I didn’t let the early bogey affect me and came back well on the front-nine. On this course, all the par-5s and two of the par-4s, the third and eighth, are reachable for me. I’ve been targeting those six holes this week and I did that to perfection today with an eagle and five birdies on them. I feel I have an edge over Shamim when it comes to these six holes. That’s the advantage I carry into the final round.

M Dharma 2411“As my total stood at seven-under through 11 holes today, I gave myself a goal of finishing the day with a 10-under total. However, I struggled with my chips on the back-nine and that halted my progress.

“I’ve been playing really well in the second half of the season and feel that I’m now knocking on the door as far as winning is concerned. Shamim is going to be a tough opponent in round four since he already has two wins this year and is high on confidence. I think a three-under in the final round would give me a really good chance.”

Shamim Khan (72-66-71), the leader by one at the halfway stage, was not at his best on day three as he could manage only three birdies at the cost of two bogeys.

Khan, ranked second in the PGTI’s money list, quickly negated his bogey on the fourth with birdies on the sixth and ninth, sinking a 20 feet putt from the fringe on the latter for the second day in succession. The 39-year-old raised hopes of maintaining his sole lead when he birdied the 15th. But couple of his shots were off the mark on the 18th and resulted in a bogey.

Shamim, the 2014 champion, said, “I didn’t hit it close enough today and thus could not produce too many birdies. However, I did make some good par putts, better than round two.

“The good thing about today’s round was that I never felt the pressure and just thought about shooting a good score. I won’t put too much pressure on myself in the final round as well and would instead concentrate on creating scoring opportunities. I have won twice this year so that adds to my self-belief.”

Manu Gandas climbed from tied sixth to tied third after returning the day’s joint best score of 68. Gandas enjoyed a late surge as he birdied the 16th and 17th.

Veer Ahlawat’s 69 also gave him a share of third place. Ahlawat is the only player to have shot three sub-par rounds in the tournament so far.

Delhi-based Arjun Prasad closed the day in fifth at five-under-211.

Digboi’s Dulal Kalowar (76-74-76), the only local player to make the cut, shot a 76 on Friday to close the round in tied 46th at 10-over-226.Round three of the IndianOil SERVO Masters Golf 2017 saw the emergence of Bengaluru’s M Dharma as a prime contender for the title.

Dharma carded a three-under-69 at the idyllic Digboi Golf Links on Friday to rise from overnight third place and become the joint leader along with Delhi’s Shamim Khan (71) at seven-under-209.

 

Youngsters Manu Gandas (68) of Gurgaon and Delhi-based Veer Ahlawat (69), both 21 years of age, were a shot adrift in tied third place at six-under-210 at the Rs. 40 lakh event.

M Dharma’s (68-72-69) quality ball-striking helped him capitalize on the par-5s on Friday that in turn took him to the top of the pack. The man with four top-10s this year, all achieved in the last two months, began the day with a bogey on the first but then rallied with five birdies over the next 10 holes.

Dharma, a winner on the PGTI in 2013, looked set to take the outright lead when he stumbled with three bogeys on the back-nine, all coming as a result of missed chip-putts from around the green. However, the 31-year-old did knock in a 25-feet eagle putt on the 15th that helped him end the day as joint leader.

Dharma, currently 13th on the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “I didn’t let the early bogey affect me and came back well on the front-nine. On this course, all the par-5s and two of the par-4s, the third and eighth, are reachable for me. I’ve been targeting those six holes this week and I did that to perfection today with an eagle and five birdies on them. I feel I have an edge over Shamim when it comes to these six holes. That’s the advantage I carry into the final round.

“As my total stood at seven-under through 11 holes today, I gave myself a goal of finishing the day with a 10-under total. However, I struggled with my chips on the back-nine and that halted my progress.

“I’ve been playing really well in the second half of the season and feel that I’m now knocking on the door as far as winning is concerned. Shamim is going to be a tough opponent in round four since he already has two wins this year and is high on confidence. I think a three-under in the final round would give me a really good chance.”

Shamim Khan (72-66-71), the leader by one at the halfway stage, was not at his best on day three as he could manage only three birdies at the cost of two bogeys.

Khan, ranked second in the PGTI’s money list, quickly negated his bogey on the fourth with birdies on the sixth and ninth, sinking a 20 feet putt from the fringe on the latter for the second day in succession. The 39-year-old raised hopes of maintaining his sole lead when he birdied the 15th. But couple of his shots were off the mark on the 18th and resulted in a bogey.

Shamim, the 2014 champion, said, “I didn’t hit it close enough today and thus could not produce too many birdies. However, I did make some good par putts, better than round two.

“The good thing about today’s round was that I never felt the pressure and just thought about shooting a good score. I won’t put too much pressure on myself in the final round as well and would instead concentrate on creating scoring opportunities. I have won twice this year so that adds to my self-belief.”

Manu Gandas climbed from tied sixth to tied third after returning the day’s joint best score of 68. Gandas enjoyed a late surge as he birdied the 16th and 17th.

Veer Ahlawat’s 69 also gave him a share of third place. Ahlawat is the only player to have shot three sub-par rounds in the tournament so far.

Delhi-based Arjun Prasad closed the day in fifth at five-under-211.

Digboi’s Dulal Kalowar (76-74-76), the only local player to make the cut, shot a 76 on Friday to close the round in tied 46th at 10-over-226.