Chandigarh: It was a packed leaderboard with multiple contenders in the fray even as Shiv Kapur enjoyed a slender one-shot advantage at 17-under 199 at the end of the penultimate round of the Rs. 1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational 2021 Presented by TAKE Sports being played at the Chandigarh Golf Club.
The Dubai-based Kapur (64-68-67), a four-time winner on the Asian Tour and one of the pre-tournament favourites, built on his solid previous rounds with a determined five-under 67 on Saturday to be the leader for the third day running.
Chandigarh lad Aadil Bedi (68-65-67), a winner on the PGTI in early 2020, kept local hopes alive as he went error-free for the second straight day during his 67 to move up one spot to second position at 16-under 200.
Delhi’s Rashid Khan (65-67-69), a two-time Asian Tour winner, slipped out of the overnight joint lead and dropped to third place at 15-under 201 following his 69.
Delhi’s Kshitij Naveed Kaul (69) occupied fourth place at 13-under 203.
Gurugram-based Dhruv Sheoran carded the day’s best score of eight-under 64 to climb 10 places to tied fifth at 12-under 204. Olympian Udayan Mane (67) was also tied for fifth along with Sheoran.
The 39-year-old Shiv Kapur, looking for his first title on the PGTI, had a brisk start as he made four birdies on the first eight holes which included three conversions from a range of 10 to 25 feet.
Shiv, who was bogey-free through his first 44 holes of the tournament, then hit a rough patch dropping three bogeys in exchange for a lone birdie between the ninth and 12th holes. He missed a couple of par putts on that stretch including a two-footer on the 12th.
Kapur, originally hailing from Delhi, rallied with three birdies thereafter as his accurate wedge shots set up short birdie putts on the 13th, 16th and 17th that gave him the sole lead for the first time this week.
Shiv said, “I had a fantastic start and didn’t put a foot wrong till the eighth. Thereafter, I had a bad stretch where I didn’t really hit any bad shots but just made one or two mental errors and maybe had one bad break here or there. I went error-free for two days but made my mistakes in bunches today. However, I’m proud that I bounced back from there with some birdies at the end to put myself in contention once again.
“Heading into round four, I’ll look to continue doing what I’ve done since the start of the event. The focus will be on keeping it in play, giving myself opportunities and making those crucial putts to keep the momentum going.”
Among Aadil Bedi’s five birdies, the ones that stood out were his 40-feet conversion on the ninth and his chip-in from the bunker on the 13th. Bedi has so far dropped just one double-bogey in the tournament and there are no bogeys on his card.
“My hitting was great in round two and I didn’t need to save any pars. But today my short-game was better and that helped me get through the day without a bogey. The three good rounds this week have helped lift my confidence after my recovery from my wrist injury,” said Aadil, who will soon be playing on the Asian Tour as he has a country spot there.
Rashid Khan made gains with two birdies on the first 10 holes followed by an eagle on the 13th. He conceded a bogey on the 16th but came back with a superb recovery from the trees to salvage a par on the 17th and keep himself in contention.
Besides Aadil Bedi there were three other Chandigarh professionals in the top-10 as Yuvraj Singh Sandhu and Abhijit Singh Chadha were tied seventh at 11-under 205 while defending champion and PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar climbed 12 spots to tied ninth at nine-under 207 after his round of 65.
Among the other marquee names in the field, former champion Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh and SSP Chawrasia were both in tied 11th at eight-under 208 while Jyoti Randhawa was another three shots back in tied 18th. Former champion Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru was tied 23rd at four-under 212. Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 34th at two-under 214.
The two amateurs to make the cut, US-based Varun Chopra (three-under 213) and Aryan Roopa Anand (even-par 216) of Bengaluru, were placed tied 26th and tied 49th respectively.