PGTI Masters 2016: Ajeetesh Sandhu, C Muniyappa hold the edge after round three, Ashok at third place

Ajeetesh SandhuMewat, Haryana: Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu and Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa held a one-shot advantage after the third round of the Rs. 50 lakh PGTI Masters 2016 which is being played at the Classic Golf & Country Club in Mewat, Haryana.

Ajeetesh Sandhu (65-71-68) fired a four-under-68 while C Muniyappa (68-67-69) returned a three-under-69 in round three as both held the joint lead with identical totals of 12-under-204.

Delhi’s Ashok Kumar (68-67-70) was one shot off the lead in third place.

Ajeetesh Sandhu, who had shot a 65 in round one to take the lead, thereafter slipped to tied third in round two after a score of 71. However, the 27-year-old worked his way back to the top of the leaderboard with a gritty 68 in round three. His only blemish in the third round was the opening bogey thanks to a missed chip-putt.

It was one-way traffic for the Chandigarh lad from there on as he went on to collect five birdies. He kept the errors out and at the same time knocked down two birdies from a range of 10 to 15 feet besides setting up two three-foot birdie conversions as a result of some brilliant wedge shots.

“I’ve missed a lot of putts since the start of the second round. I feel my putting has been quite average as compared to round one. However, I did well in holding it together in the third round despite the putter being cold. I just had one error at the start of the round.

“Going into the final round I feel I have a good chance as this course suits my game. I had posted a tied second finish at this course exactly one year back. I’ll now look to enjoy myself in the final round and give myself a good chance of making a move up the Rolex Ranking where I’m currently placed fourth,” said Ajeetesh.

C Muniyappa, who finished as the joint round two leader earlier in the day after a score of 67, held on to his position in round three courtesy a 69 that saw him convert from 10 feet on three occasions.

Muniyappa, a former Indian Open champion, began hitting the right notes in the second round when he made two birdie chip-ins in quick succession on the first and fourth. He had holed the first of the two, from the bunker.

The 39-year-old’s second round 67 pushed him up from tied fifth to tied first. He then kept the intensity going in round three and thus held on to the joint lead.

Muniyappa said, “I think the second round really got me going. I’ve hit more fairways and greens with each passing round and my chipping has also got better. These are the positives I’ll take into the final round.

“I have some good memories of this course having shot scores of 11-under and nine-under here in the past. So that also adds to my confidence. I’ll look to shoot at least a three-under in round four in order to have a shot at the title,” added Muniyappa, whose last win came at the 2009 Indian Open.

Ashok Kumar, like Muniyappa, had also carded a 67 in round two and thus shared the halfway lead with the latter. However, a 70 in round three meant, Ashok slipped two spots to third place at 11-under-205.

Gurgaon’s Manu Gandas produced the best score of round three, a six-under-66, to end the day in tied fourth at 10-under-206 along with Noida’s Vikrant Chopra (70), who led the field when play was suspended due to fading light on Wednesday.

The second round, which was left unfinished on Wednesday due to the rain delay, was completed on Thursday morning. Thereafter, the cut was declared at even-par-144 with fifty-two professionals and one amateur making it to the last two rounds.

Round 3 leading scores:

204: Ajeetesh Sandhu (65-71-68), C Muniyappa (68-67-69)
205: Ashok Kumar (68-67-70)
206: Manu Gandas (68-72-66), Vikrant Chopra (72-64-70)