Anura Rohana’s 67 catapults him to joint first, Harendra hangs in for lead

Harendra GuptaKochi: While overnight leader Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh hung on to the lead with a quiet 72 on day three, he was joined at the top by Sri Lankan Anura Rohana who carded a splendid 67 that catapulted him four places from his overnight tied fifth position. The duo was two shots clear of the rest at nine-under-207.

The chasing pack featured Delhi’s Honey Baisoya, who followed up his second round 67 with an equally impressive 68 on Friday, and Mukesh Kumar of Mhow, the 2015 champion, who returned a 71 in round three. Baisoya and Mukesh shared third place at seven-under-209.

The seasoned Anura Rohana (70-70-67), lying tied fifth at the halfway stage, bridged the gap of five shots between himself and the leader with his awesome five-under-67 in the third round. The 43-year-old from Colombo, keen to end his two and a half year title drought, made some long birdie conversions on the fifth and sixth which were neutralized by bogeys on the seventh and ninth.

However, his round took flight on the back-nine. Anura first birdied the 10th from 10 feet and then followed that up with an incredible run of birdies on the last four holes. He struck it well on the 15th and 16th, to pick up strokes on both the par-5s and move to three-under for the day. The three-time winner on the PGTI finally ended the day in a blaze of glory with two more birdie conversions from eight to 10 feet on the 17th and 18th.

Rohana said, “The low score came just at the right time for me. I’ve been feeling good about my putting since the event in Chittagong earlier this month where I finished in the top-5. Today I converted five birdie putts from a range of eight to 15 feet. My approach shots were also quite accurate. I kept landing them close to set up birdie putts.

“I hold the record for the lowest score at this course, an eight-under-64, which I shot during the 2015 PGTI Cochin Masters. I’ve had that at the back of my mind all week. I know I can shoot low scores here and that has been encouraging me to play well.

“I kept missing birdie putts from within 10 feet from the 11th to the 14th but I didn’t let that affect me as I came back well with a fantastic run of four successive birdies at the end. It’s now going to be a fascinating contest with Harendra who came from behind to beat me in Pune exactly one year back.”

Harendra Gupta (70-65-72) was looking good when he moved to two-under for the day after a brilliant bunker shot on the sixth that left him a tap-in birdie. But a wrong club selection that resulted in a bogey on the seventh changed the course of his round. Gupta, the overnight leader by three, could not conjure any more birdies from there on. In fact, he went on to drop another shot on the 14th.

Harendra said, “My driving and tee shots were not as good compared to the second round. I found the hazard a couple of times today. I feel the bogey on the seventh took away the momentum from me as I kept thinking about it through the round.

“However, I’m still very much in contention and a score of four to five-under in the final round would give me a good chance of winning.”

Three-time winner Honey Baisoya produced a flawless 68 to move up from overnight 11th to tied third. He was joined by veteran Mukesh Kumar in joint third. Mukesh had four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey during his round of 71 on Friday.

Delhi-based Shivendra Singh Sisodia (73) was in fifth place at five-under-211.

Rookie golfer Tapendra Ghai of Gurgaon produced the day’s best score of five-under-66 to be placed tied ninth at two-under-214.

Defending champion Feroz Ali Mollah (73) of Kolkata closed round three in tied 23rd place at one-over-217.