Vikrant Chopra’s rock-solid 68 keeps him two ahead going into final round of Jaipur Open 2017

Vikrant ChopraJaipur: Noida’s Vikrant Chopra continued in the lead on the third day of the Jaipur Open 2017 as a result of his rock-solid two-under-68 that kept him two ahead at 17-under-193.

Lucknow’s Sanjeev Kumar reduced Chopra’s lead to two strokes after his standout performance of 65 took his total to 15-under-195 at the picturesque Rambagh Golf Club.

Delhi’s Honey Baisoya also produced the day’s best of 65 to rise to third place at 14-under-196.

PGTI Order of Merit leader Shamim Khan (67) of Delhi was another stroke back in fourth.

Vikrant Chopra (62-63-68), the overnight leader by five shots, had a relatively quieter day as compared to round one and two but managed to hang on to his advantage. The 37-year-old kept the errors out once again with his second bogey-free round of the week. He’s just dropped one bogey so far in three rounds.

Chopra sank a 10-footer for birdie on the fifth but then the putts stopped rolling in for him as he had a few narrow misses for birdies. However, he finally nailed a crucial six feet birdie putt on the 18th that ensured him a two-shot cushion ahead of the final round.

Vikrant said, “Anytime you have a bogey-free round you should be happy since technically you’ve not made any mistakes. So I’m quite pleased with today’s effort even though the putts didn’t fall for me. The closing birdie was critical as it nicely sets up the final round for me.

“The key in the final round will be to keep the ball in play. I will play to my plan in round four. One does tend to look at the leaderboard in such situations, but it’s important to not let it affect your game too much. That’s what I’ll keep in mind.

“There are a few experienced golfers in the mix such as Shamim Khan, Vinod Kumar and Honey Baisoya as well as Sanjeev Kumar who is playing really well. I’m therefore expecting some intense competition on the final day,” added a confident Chopra, who is chasing his maiden individual title.

Sanjeev Kumar (67-63-65), who was overnight joint second, emerged as the prime challenger to the leader with the third round’s best score of 65. The 25-year-old Sanjeev, who turned pro in 2011, has played the best golf of his career in the last two seasons.

The Lucknow lad had posted a top-10 at the Asian Tour’s Panasonic Open India in 2016 and followed that up with a runner-up finish at the PGTI event in Chittagong earlier this year.

On Friday, Sanjeev was four-under through the front-nine largely thanks to a 15-feet eagle conversion on the eighth. He eagled the eighth for the second day in succession. Kumar then added two more birdies and a bogey to his card on the back-nine to end up with a five-under for the day.

Sanjeev said, “I’m playing in the leader group for the first time this week, so I felt the pressure on the first few holes today. But the eagle on the eighth lifted my confidence. I thought I was in a good position to take the lead today but there were a few missed opportunities towards the end.

“My putting needs to be sharper in the final round and I think a round of five to six under will give me a good chance of winning. I’m quite happy that I’ve dropped just two bogeys so far this week.

“My game has just taken off since last year due to various factors. I’m using new equipment, driving much better and making more conversions on the greens. I also feel less pressure while competing.”

Honey Baisoya matched the day’s best of 65 to gain one place and move up to third position.

Shamim Khan’s third round of 67 saw him drop from tied second to fourth place at 13-under-197.

Gurgaon-based Manu Gandas and Delhi’s Vinod Kumar returned scores of 66 to share fifth place at 12-under-198.