Bengaluru: Reigning Rolex Ranking champion Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru made a statement with an unyielding four-under-68 in round three of the TAKE Open Golf Championship, a Rs. 1 crore PGTI event, being played at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course. Chikka’s brilliant third round effort gave him a three-shot lead at 12-under-204.
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (68) and Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma (70) were tied for the second place at nine-under-207.
Chikkarangappa (69-67-68), the overnight joint leader, delighted the home crowd on Friday after he ended the penultimate round with a three-stroke cushion at the top.
The 23-year-old precocious talent was off to a terrific start on day three as he reeled off birdies on the first three holes. Chikka landed it within four feet for the second time during the day for another birdie on the sixth. However, a couple of erratic tee shots on the fourth and ninth resulted in bogeys and saw him make the turn at two-under.
Chikka consolidated his lead with a display of fine putting on the back-nine, nailing birdie putts from a range of 12 to 20 feet on the 11th, 12th and 17th. Although, the winner of nine titles stumbled with a bogey on the closing 18th after finding the hazard, he continues to be the overwhelming favourite going into the final round.
Chikka said, “I enjoyed a great start over the first three holes. Thereafter, my course management wasn’t good. I kept putting myself under pressure trying to hit difficult shots, especially on the par-5s.
“Scoring on the par-5s used to be my strength but for the last few weeks I’ve not been able to capitalize on the par-5s. That’s one issue I need to address immediately.
“I made some long putts today and missed a couple of short ones. I feel the long putts are easier to make here at KGA since your expectations are low. But the short ones that are there for the taking can be quite tricky since reading the greens is not easy here.
“I’m looking to improve on my tee shots in the final round since I missed a few fairways today but was lucky to not get into too much trouble. I must play to a plan and stick to my strategy in round four, especially with regard to the par-5s,” added Chikka.
Gaurav Pratap Singh (67-72-68), made a significant move up the leaderboard, from overnight tied eighth to tied second, on day three, as a result of his 68. Gaurav, a former winner on the PGTI, was two-under through 16 holes but had a late surge with long birdie conversions on the last two holes that helped him close the day in joint second.
Shubhankar Sharma (68-69-70) moved up one place from overnight third to tied second after a round of 70. Shubhankar, placed second in the Rolex Rankings thanks to his two wins earlier this year, is likely to be a prime contender on the final day.
The other top names in the chasing pack will be Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar, Bengaluru’s Rahil Gangjee and Sujjan Singh of Chandigarh, all of whom ended day three in tied fourth place at eight-under-208.
Bengaluru amateur Jaibir Singh slipped from tied fourth to tied seventh after his third round of 71. Sri Lankan Anura Rohana too shot a 71 to join Jaibir in tied seventh place at seven-under-209.
Indian star Jyoti Randhawa (72) was in tied 11th at five-under-211.
Fifteen-year-old amateur Aadil Bedi (79), making his first appearance at a professional event, closed the day in 54th at nine-over-225.
Leading Scores after Round 3 (54 holes):
204: Chikkarangappa (69-67-68)
207: Gaurav Pratap Singh (67-72-68), Shubhankar Sharma (68-69-70)
208: Chiragh Kumar (70-69-69), Rahil Gangjee (68-70-70), Sujjan Singh (66-70-72)