Ahmedabad: Reigning champion Khalin Joshi of Bengaluru maintained his three-stroke lead in round three of the PGTI Ahmedabad Masters presented by Kalhaar Blues & Greens. Joshi, who brought in a card of one-under-71 in the penultimate round, took his tournament tally to 12-under-204.
Delhi’s Rashid Khan also fired a 71 to hold on to his overnight second place at nine-under-207.
Khalin Joshi (68-65-71), the second round leader by two shots, was off to yet another terrific start as he birdied his first two holes for the third successive day. Joshi then scrambled for a bogey on the fourth before quickly recovering ground with another birdie on the fifth.
There seemed to be a twist on the back-nine as Rashid Khan (67-69-71) closed the gap to one stroke after an eagle-birdie run on the 12th and 13th. Rashid came extremely close to achieving a rare albatross on the par-5 12th where his approach from 200 yards out landed within a foot of the flag for a tap-in eagle.
Both Khalin and Rashid bogeyed the 14th with the former limiting the damage with a 12-feet conversion after hitting his second shot out of bounds. But Joshi, who closed the day with birdie-bogey on the 17th and 18th, was back in the driver’s seat with a three-shot cushion at the end of the day as Khan conceded a disastrous double-bogey on the 18th where he found the slope of the water hazard and had to take a penalty drop.
Joshi said, “I didn’t shoot a low number but it was a decent round since the playing conditions were tough today. The wind was up, the tees were pushed back and the pin positions were not easy either. It was tough to commit to a shot.
“I’ve enjoyed some splendid starts this week and that has set it up well for me in each round. However, for the second straight day today, I closed the round with a bogey. So I’m a tad disappointed with that.
“The good news is that, I struck it better in round three as compared to the first two days. I’ll not go out there in the final round thinking about defending my title as that will only put further pressure on me. I just need to play my best and that should do the job,” added Khalin.
The stage is thus set for a fascinating duel between the 24-year-old Khalin and the 25-year-old Rashid, two golfers who have played a lot of golf together in their formative years.
Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow too maintained status quo on day three as he held on to his overnight third position courtesy a 71. His total stood at eight-under-208.
Panchkula-based Rolex Ranking leader Shubhankar Sharma was in fourth at six-under-210 while Sri Lankan Anura Rohana was a further shot back in fifth place.
Noida’s Vikrant Chopra produced the day’s best score of 67 to move up 17 places from overnight tied 28th to 11th position.
Ahmedabad’s Varun Parikh, the lone amateur to make the cut, returned an 80 on Thursday to be placed tied 41st at 11-over-227.