Akshay Sharma holds two-shot advantage in round three

Akshay SharmaChandigarh’s Akshay Sharma, who won the last PGTI event in Noida last month, found himself in contention once again at the Kensville Open 2018 presented by PGTI. The 28-year-old Akshay came up with a four-under-68 in round three on Thursday to take a two-shot lead at seven-under-209 at the Kensville Golf & Country Club.

Tapy Ghai of Gurugram, the overnight leader, slipped to tied second place after an even-par-72 took his score to five-under-211. Ghai was joined by Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (68), Mukesh Kumar (69) of Mhow and Kapurthala’s Ashbeer Saini (69) in joint second.

Akshay Sharma (71-70-68), lying overnight tied third and two off the lead, produced five birdies at the expense of a lone bogey to move into the sole lead in round three.

Sharma, fresh from his maiden win on the PGTI, began the day on a bright note with birdie on the first where he landed his approach two-feet from the pin. He followed that up with a massive 45-feet conversion for birdie on the fifth.

Akshay, currently ranked fifth in the PGTI Order of Merit, made his second tap-in birdie of the day on the sixth after an impressive chip. A bogey as a result of a three-putt on the eighth was Sharma’s only blemish of the day. He hit it close through the day and therefore went on to pick up two more birdies on the 14th and 15th.

Akshay, who has five top-10s to his credit in the current season, said, “I’ve been fairly high on confidence since my breakthrough win last month. That has helped me take my game a notch higher.

“I hit it with precision today and created many chances for myself. I did well with the wedges as I set up two tap-in birdies. A score of three-under over the first six holes really set the ball rolling for me today.

“I’ll look to shoot an under-par score in the final round. That would give me a good opportunity to compete for the title. The two holes that one has to look out for here are the 12th and the 15th. Both holes have a tricky layout,” added Sharma, who will be gunning for a second straight win.

Halfway leader Tapy Ghai had a birdie and a bogey to show for his effort on Thursday while N Thangaraja produced an error-free round of 68.

Ashbeer Saini shot an eventful 69 which featured eight birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey. Mukesh Kumar too signed for a 69 that included four birdies and a bogey and saw him get into a four-way tie for second along with Ghai, Thangaraja and Saini.

Delhi’s Sachin Baisoya dropped from second to sixth place after a round of 72 that saw him make three bogeys on the last four holes. His score stood at four-under-212.

Karnal’s Maniram produced the best round of the tournament, a six-under-66, with eight birdies and two bogeys, to rise from overnight tied 38th to seventh place at two-under-214.