Chennai: Mukesh Kumar continued in the lead for the third straight day at the inaugural Express Exclusive presents Chennai Open Golf Championship being played at the Madras Gymkhana Club (MGC) Golf Course at Guindy.
The man from Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, with over a 100 titles to his credit on the Indian domestic circuit, put up yet another dominant display in round three at the MGC as he posted a bogey-free five-under-65 to build an almost insurmountable nine-shot lead with this total reading 16-under-194.
Honey Baisoya of Delhi was a distant second at seven-under-203 after his third round of even-par-70 at the Rs. 40 lakh event.
Mukesh Kumar (61-68-65) extended his lead by five shots in round three courtesy some brilliant wedge shots. Mukesh, a winner of a record 17 titles on the PGTI, had a steady start to the third day as he made pars on the first six holes.
Mukesh’s round took flight with consecutive birdies on the seventh and eighth where he landed it within three feet. When he set up another birdie putt from five feet on the 10th, it looked more and more like a one-horse race with no one in sight to challenge for the lead.
Mukesh’s 15-feet birdie conversion on the 14th helped him add to his burgeoning lead. However, his excellent recovery from the rough on the 18th where he extracted another birdie was the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’.
Mukesh said, “My wedge-play and chipping was really sharp today. I used my sand-wedge to great effect. I looked at playing safe to maintain my lead but the birdies still kept coming. I missed a few short putts but I won’t complain considering the position I’m in at the moment.
“I had set out to achieve a score of four to five under over the last two rounds but I’ve already achieved that in round three. So now the focus will be on keeping it simple and playing percentage golf. Honey Baisoya could be the only competition on the final day since he’s striking it really well. I also have to guard against being complacent as ‘it’s never over till it’s over’ in golf.
“The greens here at the MGC suit my game. That’s one of the reasons why I always play well here. The first round 61 set up the tournament for me as it gave me a huge psychological boost. I now hope to win a record 18th title on the PGTI,” added Mukesh, who is currently 15th in the Rolex Ranking.
Mukesh, who is currently 51 years and two months old, is now also in line to break his own record of being the oldest player to win on the PGTI. He set the record with his last win on the PGTI in December 2015 when he was 50 years and four months old.
Honey Baisoya (67-66-70) was one-over for the day through 17 holes but birdied the last from 10 feet to promote himself from joint second to sole second at the end of the day. Baisoya, currently 17th in the Rolex Ranking with three top-10s this season, now looks set to improve upon his previous best finish of the year which was fourth.
Lucknow’s Sanjay Kumar (69) and Bangladesh’s Md Zamal Hossain Mollah (69) were in joint third place at six-under-204.
Bengalureans Udayan Mane (four-under-206) and C Muniyappa (three-under-207) were in tied ninth and tied 13th respectively.
Gurgaon-based Digvijay Singh’s seven-under-63 was the day’s best card and it catapulted him from overnight tied 49th to tied 15th place at two-under-208.
C Arul (70-73-73), the only Chennai player to make the cut, shot a three-over-73 on Thursday to lie tied 44th at six-over-216.
Rd 3 Leading Scores:
194: Mukesh Kumar (61-68-65)
203: Honey Baisoya (67-66-70)
204: Md Zamal Hossain Mollah (69-66-69), Sanjay Kumar (68-67-69)