McLeod Russel Tour Championship: Pariya regains advantage, Rashid back in 2nd place

Rashid golfKolkata: Thailands golfer Pariya Junhasavasdikul regained the sole lead in the third round of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship after he shot the days best score of four-under 68 here on Saturday.

Pariya, the leading foreign player in the field, totalled 14-under 202 after the penultimate round to enjoy a two-shot lead over second-placed Rashid Khan, who scored a 70.

Olympian S.S.P. Chawrasia, the winner of the tournament's inaugural edition in 2012, came up with a third round of 69 to lurk in third place at nine-under 207 total.

Shubhankar Sharma (70) of Panchkula, who leads the ranking charts in PGTI, was a further shot behind in fourth place at the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) year-ending event.

Two-time winner on the Asian Tour, Pariya (66-68-68), the joint second round leader, was off to an explosive start in round three courtesy a hot putter.

The wire-to-wire leader birdied the first three holes with conversions from a range of 10 to 30 feet. He added another on the eighth to make the turn at four-under.

Also read: Rashid storms to joint lead with Pariya at McLeod Russel Tour Championship

Pariya then had a quiet spell till the 14th before an excellent recovery from the bunker and a 12-feet conversion helped him pick up his fifth birdie of the day on the 15th.

His only blemish was the bogey on 16 where he missed an up and down from 50 yards. The 32-year-old is now in line to become the first foreigner to win the McLeod Russel Tour Championship.

Rashid (70-64-70), who shared the lead with Pariya in round two, slipped one position to second after mixing four birdies with two bogeys on Friday.

Rashid, currently fourth in the Rolex Ranking, had a 20-feet birdie conversion on the fifth but also missed out on a 20-feet par putt on the last hole that pushed him two back.

Rashid, a winner of two titles on the PGTI this year, said: "I have to work on my putting stroke as I missed a lot of putts which went to the right of the hole. Once you're a little confused with your putting, it gets tough, as putting is half your game. I have to sort this out if I have to win tournaments.

"There's a lot to play for in the final round as I have to win if I want to seal the Rolex Ranking title," he added.

Gaganjeet Bhullar (seven-under 209), Khalin Joshi (six-under-210) and Shiv Kapur (five-under 211) occupied the fifth, sixth and seventh places respectively at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

Jyoti Randhawa and rookie Aman Raj were joint 10th at three-under 213. As things stand, Patna's Aman Raj is expected to end up with the highest earnings among the rookies and as a result win the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year title.

Jeev Milkha Singh and Mukesh Kumar were a further shot back in tied 13th, while the Kolkata duo of Rahil Gangjee (one-under 215) and Arjun Atwal (four-over 220) were tied 16th and tied 38th respectively.

Defending champion S. Chikka was placed tied 35th at three-over 219.