New Delhi: Chiragh Kumar of India battled to an even-par 72 to lead by one-shot over a fast-charging Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh after the third round of the Panasonic Open India on Saturday.
Overnight leader Kumar double bogeyed the first hole but recovered with five birdies to finish on 11-under-par 205 to stay in the hunt for a first Asian Tour victory at the US$400,000 event.
Siddidikur, who has won once and has multiple top-10s at the Delhi Golf Club, birdied the last hole from four feet to stay in contention following a 68. S. Chikka of India and Zamal Hossain of Bangladesh posted a 68 and 70 respectively to trail the leader by three shots.
Home favourite Kumar struggled with an inconsistent swing as he hit his tee shot into the bushes on the opening hole and was punished with a third bogey of the day on the par three 17.
He was disappointed not to build on his overnight three-shot lead but will draw confidence from his battling performance, highlighted by three straight birdies from the 13th hole, when he prepares for a final round shoot-out.
“Right now, I’m glad the round is over. The way I was playing, I’m happy with the score I came back with. I was all over the place today. I’m not disappointed, I’ll take it as a positive,” said the 31-year-old Kumar.
“I kept telling myself not to let the bad shots get to me. I kept grinding out until the very last hole. I stuck to my play and didn’t get defensive. You can’t let bad shots get to you,” added the Indian, whose best result this year was tied second in Macao three weeks ago.
Kumar is excited to hold the lead heading into the final round of an Asian Tour event for the first time. “There’s always pressure. It depends on how you deal with the situation. I want to go out there and enjoy it. I haven’t been in this position and make the most of it.”
Two-time Asian Tour winner Siddikur put himself in a familiar position at his favourite hunting ground when he returned with a flawless card.
“This is one of my favourite golf courses and I really enjoy playing here. I’m happy with my game because I kept my ball on the fairway, stayed out of trouble and that’s the key to a good score. I don’t have a score in mind. I just want to focus in the final round,” said Siddikur.
Chikka, who won on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) last week, stayed out of trouble for 17 holes before walking away with a disappointing bogey when he hit a poor tee shot into the bushes.
“I’ll probably call Anirban (Lahiri), and get a few tips from him. He won his first Asian Tour event here at the Delhi Golf Club. So I would like to follow in his footsteps,” said Chikka, who is close friends with the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader.
“I am really looking forward to a win here. I don’t have any score or a number in mind. I am just going to out there and think about every possible shot and try to stay in the moment,” he added.
There was heartbreak for Sattaya Supupramai of Thailand as he was disqualified for signing for a lower score.
Scores after round 3 of the Panasonic Open India 2015 being played at the par 72, 6983 Yards Delhi GC course (am - denotes amateur):
205 - Chiragh KUMAR (IND) 67-66-72.
206 - Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 68-70-68.
208 - Chikka S. (IND) 69-71-68, Zamal HOSSAIN (BAN) 71-67-70.
209 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 68-72-69, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 66-70-73.
210 - Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 70-73-67, Vikrant CHOPRA (IND) 71-68-71.
211 - Rashid KHAN (IND) 71-71-69, Sujjan SINGH (IND) 71-70-70, Shankar DAS (IND) 69-71-71.
212 - Manav JAINI (IND) 72-71-69, Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 69-72-71.
213 - Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 72-71-70, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 70-74-69, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 71-71-71, Mukesh KUMAR (IND) 70-71-72, K. PRABAGARAN (SRI) 69-70-74, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 70-68-75.
214 - Teemu PUTKONEN (FIN) 72-71-71, Khalin JOSHI (IND) 69-73-72, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 74-72-68.
215 - Abhishek JHA (IND) 71-73-71, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 71-73-71, Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 68-75-72, Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 75-70-70, Feroz ALI (IND) 76-70-69, Sanjay KUMAR (IND) 70-71-74.