Chandigarh: The seasoned Shankar Das of Kolkata made his presence felt with a third straight round of four-under-68 at the Rs. 30 lakh TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship Presented by Chandigarh Golf Club. Thirty-six-year-old Shankar now enjoys a one-shot lead at 12-under-204 ahead of the final round.
Greater Noida’s Sudhir Sharma, who was overnight tied fourth along with Shankar after setting a new course record on Wednesday, also moved up two spots in the penultimate round. Sudhir’s 69 on Thursday placed him second at 11-under-205.
Bengaluru’s Trishul Chinnappa, the halfway leader, slipped to tied third as a result of his third round of 73. Chinnappa shared third place with Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh (71) at nine-under-207.
Panchkula’s Angad Cheema was the highest placed among the Tricity golfers. Cheema (68) closed the day in tied 12th at five-under-211.
The conditions during round three were unforgiving as it was the windiest day of the tournament and the breeze kept switching directions. The tough scoring conditions meant that only 17 players out of a total of 57 could break par on day three.
Shankar Das (68-68-68), a seven-time winner on the PGTI, negotiated the conditions well to shoot the day’s joint best score and keep his card bogey-free. Das struggled to find greens in regulation but more than made up for that with his fine chipping and putting.
The 2014 TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit champion made a couple of chip-putt birdies on the second and 16th and landed his wedge shots within six feet for birdies on the sixth and 18th. The man with three top-10s this year will now be looking for his first win since September 2017.
Shankar said, “I found only 10 greens in regulation today but made some excellent up and downs wherever I missed the green. I made as many as eight one-putts and was sharp with my wedges.
“The conditions were such that it was imperative to judge the wind well and make good club selections. I did well on both fronts. Importantly, I’ve dropped just three bogeys in the entire tournament so far and that has been the key to my consistency this week.
“If I can drive and putt well in the final round I will have a really good chance of winning. I think a fourth straight round of 68 might just be good enough for me.
“I’ve already posted three top-10s this season so the form is good and the momentum is slowly building up for me. I think it’s just a matter of time before I can get my next win,” added Das, who previously registered a win in the Tricity at the 2013 PGTI Players Championship Presented by Panchkula Golf Club.
Sudhir Sharma (72-64-69) began the day splendidly as he landed his approach within a foot on the first hole to set up a tap-in birdie. Sudhir picked up five more birdies at the cost of a bogey till the 17th to enjoy a two-shot cushion over Shankar Das.
However, it all changed when Sharma found the water with his approach on the 18th and thereby conceded a double-bogey at the end. There was a three-shot swing in favour of Shankar who snatched the lead from Sudhir after making a birdie on the last hole.
Round two leader Trishul Chinnappa got off to a promising start with two birdies on the first four holes but he soon slipped with two bogeys and a double-bogey between the eighth and the 11th. He managed to pull one shot back on the 16th.
Patna’s Aman Raj and Bangladesh’s Md Dulal Hossain, who were both overnight tied second, shot identical scores of 74 in round three and thus dropped to tied fifth at seven-under-209. The three others in tied fifth were Delhi golfers Kapil Kumar (68) and Rashid Khan (71) and Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa (71).
Jyoti Randhawa was in tied 29th at one-under-215.