Gangjee takes sole lead at Kensville Challenge

Ahmedabad: Rahil Gangjee had a roller-coaster of a ride in the last four holes, but in the end emerged with a one-shot lead on a tightly packed leaderboard at the end of the third round of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge 2012. His one-over 73 on a difficult scoring day brought him down from overnight seven-under to six-under 210 for 54 holes.

But Shiv Kapur, who held a share of the lead with Gangjee dropped down dramatically with a 78 and he was now one-over for three rounds and tied 11th.

The next best Indian was Ashok Kumar ( 75, 70, 74) at three-over and in tied 27th with Petert Uihlein of the US.

American Dodge Kemmer (70) and German Max Keiffer (70) shared the second spot at five-under 211, while English duo Philip Archer (68) and Luke Goddard (70), Swede Jens Dantorp (74) and Dane Andreas Harto were all tied for fourth at four-under 212. Archer moved from overnight 20th to fourth and put himself in the fray.

On a tough scoring day, when the wind and hard greens took a toll, there were just four cards under 70, two 68s and two 69s by Andreas Harto and Callum Macaulay.

Overnight co-leader Shiv Kapur had a nightmarish round that just wouldn’t go away right till the last, where he had a double bogey. He had a round of six-over 78 that saw him plummet to tied 11th at one-under after being seven-under at the start.

The 33-year-old, Gangjee, who has one win on Asian Tour, dating back to his Rookie year in 2004, has not won since. But he has held lead either all alone or a share of it, once each on the European Tour (Avantha Masters 2010) and the Nationwide (Albertsons Boise 2011). “I know what it is like to go in the lead on the last day. I have also learnt from it. Sure there will be some nervousness.”

Gangjee said, “It was going OK until the 17th hole, and then it started to go badly wrong. My first putt from just off the green rolled up the hill and picked up speed as soon as it got to the top and rolled way past the hole. I thought my next putt was uphill, but it was a lot faster than any other putt I had today, and it ended up 25 feet from the hole. At that point, I felt so embarrassed – it felt like I was playing hockey! So I ended up four-putting for a triple bogey, which wasn’t a lot of fun,” said Gangjee.

“But I’m really pleased with the way I calmed myself down and hit a great shot into the last to ten feet for a birdie. That could prove very important tomorrow. Other than 16 and 17, I actually played pretty solid today. The pins were in some really tough positions, so a lot of time you had to just play conservatively and make pars.

On his plan for the final day, he added, “But I’m still going to play positively on the last day, because it’s the only way I know how. If it’s going to be as firm as it was today, someone’s going to have to go really low to come through the field and overtake me. So the winner will probably come down to the top four or five players, and hopefully I can come out on top. I’ve been in the lead a few times going into the final round, and I think you learn every time. As Gary Player said, you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I’m probably going to have some nerves, because you’re not human if you don’t. But I’m now much more confident of controlling them.”

Kapur managed to hold par for the first seven holes before double bogeying the eighth and he partially recovered with a birdie on ninth and that meant Gangjee was in sole lead.

On the back nine, Gangjee stayed steady with pars from 10th to 14th, while Kapur struggled with the wind and hard greens and his hitting too let him down somewhat. Kapur bogeyed 11th, 13th and 14th which escalated his downward slide.

On the 15th Gangjee moved to eight-under with a 12-foot birdie, but he gave away that shot on 16th and then a double bogey on 17th. “That birdie on the 18th was a good way to finish. I know I was being aggressive but that’s the way I play now. Maybe (playing on) Nationwide Tour has taught me. We have to try and win, nothing less,” said Gangjee, who landed within 10 feet with his second shot and holed it for his fifth birdie of the day.

Meanwhile Kapur added to his woes on the par-4 18th, where he was just off the green. He left his chip short, then hit his first putt five feet past the hole and failed to hole it and ended with a double bogey for a 78.

Archer, whose 68 was one of the highlights of the moving day, said, “It was very solid today, I hit 17 greens out there and was never really in any trouble. The only bogey was a three-putt at the 16th, where I found myself in an almost impossible position. It makes you think much more about the game when you’re playing in the wind, because you can’t afford to just stand there and try to whack it as hard as you can – you have to shape the ball much more. The swing feels back to where it was a long time ago, so that’s very encouraging,” said Archer who worked on his swing in the winter.

Harto said,”I made three birdies on the front nine to reach the turn in two under which was great because the course is playing really tough in this wind. When I birdied 13 and 14 I thought I might be in for a really good day, but unfortunately I three-putted 17 to drop back to four under. But two three-putt bogeys in those conditions is pretty good going, so I can’t complain.   The course is so firm that it’s really difficult to get it close to the hole, even with a wedge in your hand.”

Kemmer, who tied for second with Gangjee at the Asian Tour Q-School Final Stage last week, said: “Given the conditions out there today, I’ve got to be pleased with that round. I really wasted the first three par fives, because I had to take an unplayable drop on the sixth, so I ended up bogeying that. “ He found his way back on the back nine with birdies on 11th, 15th and 18th and had no bogeys. “Other than the sixth I managed to keep the bogeys off my card, and a few birdies on the way in have put me into a pretty good position going into the last day,” added Kemmer.

Oskar Henningson had six birdies in the last 10 holes during the course of his four-under 68, the day’s best card and the same as Philip Archer. Henningson moved to tied eighth from overnight 30th.

Gary Lockerbie, playing with Gangjee and Kapur had a tough day, too. He shot 80 and from six-under he was now two-over and in tied 22nd after being tied third overnight.

Keiffer, making his first visit to India, said, “It was tough today in the wind and with the pin positions, so I’m very happy with a round of 70. It’s been a long day so I’m feeling a bit tired, but I managed to stay focused for the whole round. It’s great to be in contention again, because the last time was in France last May, when I lost in a play-off.”
Ahmedabad, Jan 28: Scores after round  3 at the Gujarat Kensville Challenge 2012 Golf

210 R Gangjee (Ind) 68 69 73,
211 D Kemmer (USA) 69 72 70, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 71 70,
212 J Dantorp (Swe) 70 68 74, A Hart¯  (Den) 73 70 69, L Goddard  (Eng) 71 71 70, P Archer (Eng) 73 71 68,
213 O Henningson  (Swe) 73 72 68, C Macaulay  (Sco) 74 70 69,
214 S Benson (Eng) 70 68 76,
215 Shiv Kapur (Ind) 69 68 78, P Dwyer (Eng) 71 72 72, Bjorn Akesson (Swe) 70 73 72,
216 J Gibb (Eng) 72 72 72, R Russell (Sco) 73 69 74, C Doak (Sco) 74 70 72, C Lloyd (Eng) 72 70 74, C Brazillier  (Fra) 72 70 74,

219 Ashok Kumar (Ind) 75 70 74,
220 Digvijay Singh (Ind) 72 73 75, Kapil Kumar (Ind) 73 73 74,
221 Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 71 75 75, M Singh Pathania (Ind) 75 72 74
222 Ranjit Singh (Ind) 71 73 78, Shamim Khan (Ind) 72 75 75, Vijay Kumar (Ind) 76 72 74,
223 Mukesh Kumar (Ind) 72 73 78, Abhinav Lohan (Ind) 72 73 78,
224 Manav Jaini (Ind) 70 77 77
227 Vinod Kumar (Ind) 75 71 81