Nuh, Haryana: Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan of India carded a second straight six-under-66 in round three of the inaugural Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship to raise hopes of ending his five-year long dry spell on the Asian Tour.
The 28-year-old Rashid, who won both his Asian Tour titles in 2014, gained one spot from round two to be placed second at 16-under-200 at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event being played at the Classic Golf & Country Club (CG&CC). Khan trails the leader Rory Hie of Indonesia by one shot.
Abhijit Singh Chadha returned an error-free 68 on Saturday but slipped one position to third place at 15-under-201.
Rookie Aadil Bedi (69) ended the penultimate round as the third Indian in the top-5. The teenager was tied fifth at 12-under-204.
Rashid Khan (68-66-66), two off the pace at the halfway stage, produced some good iron shots to collect birdies on the seventh, ninth and 10th. Rashid conceded his first bogey of the tournament after 46 holes when he dropped a stroke on the 11th where he had trouble with club selection.
Rashid, who previously won a TATA Steel PGTI event at the CG&CC in 2013, then rallied with four birdies on the 12th, 15th, 16th and 18th. He drove the green on the par-4 12th, chipped-in on the 15th, sank a 15-footer on the 16th and finally made a terrific up and down on the 18th.
Khan, looking to regain his Asian Tour card after losing it this year, said, “Today's round was pretty good. I had a slow start, hit the ball well and hit some good putts, but they just didn't roll in.
“I made a good comeback after the bogey on the 11th when I drove the green on the next hole and two-putted for birdie.
“I'm enjoying myself out on the course this week. I’m consistently hitting the fairways and finding the greens. I’ve also been scrambling well. You need all of those things to put up scores of 5 to 6-under.
“Today, I just had one bad hole, the 11th. Otherwise, I kept hitting the greens giving myself a lot of chances.
“Today the conditions were fine, especially the weather. There wasn't much sun today so that definitely helped.
“I'm not thinking about anything for tomorrow. I'll only start thinking ahead when I’m on the last nine holes.”
Abhijit Singh Chadha (68-65-68), playing at his happy hunting ground, kept himself in the race for a maiden Asian Tour title with a solid 68.
The 28-year-old Abhijit, who along with Rashid Khan was part of the Indian team that won silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, had a hot start on Saturday as he drained three birdies on his first four holes. He recovered well from the rough and then knocked in a 25-footer to extract a birdie on the fourth.
Thereafter, Chadha’s putter went cold as his putts stopped rolling in and he had a few lip-outs. He only managed to add one more birdie on the 12th.
Asian Tour regular Abhijit said, “I played really well actually for a bogey free four-under. I didn't make too many mistakes today. I just got a little unlucky with some of my putts as I had three or four lip-outs which could have easily gone in.
“I started off well and was doing the right things and kept hitting the fairways. Later on as well, I was doing the same things and hitting it close but just that the putts weren't going in. I'm playing well and am very positive going into the final round.”
Aadil Bedi (67-68-69) moved up one spot to tied fifth after shooting a round that featured four birdies and a bogey. The 18-year-old Aadil, the best Indian finisher in tied ninth at the Asian Tour Q School earlier this year, will be another leading Indian contender come the final day.
Aman Raj (72) dropped five places to be tied eighth at 10-under-206. He was the fourth Indian in the top-10.
Himmat Rai and Abhinav Lohan were both in tied 12th at nine-under-207.
Viraj Madappa, Chikkarangappa and Sudhir Sharma were all in tied 15th at eight-under-208. Thus, there were nine Indians in the top-20.