Chandigarh’s Abhijit Singh Chadha fired a six-under 64 to take a one-shot lead over Gurugram-based rookie Kartik Sharma after round three of the Pune Open Golf Championship, which has now turned into a two-horse race, here.
The rest of the field were another eight shots behind.
The 30-year-old Chadha (63-65-64), lying overnight second and two shots off the lead, produced his second successive bogey-free round on Friday to take his tournament tally to 17-under 192 at the Poona Club Golf Course.
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The 21-year-old Sharma (66-60-67), the overnight leader, on the other hand, carded a three-under 67 on day three to drop to second place at 16-under 193. The left-hander’s round featured five birdies and two bogeys.
A shootout between Chadha and Kartik, lying 24th and 25th in the PGTI Order of Merit respectively, is now in the offing on the final day as the duo is miles ahead of the rest of the field.
Kolkata’s Sunit Chowrasia shot the day’s best score of seven-under 63 that propelled him 11 spots to tied third at eight-under 201 along with Bangladesh’s Md Zamal Hossain Mollah (68) and Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed (68).
Hole no. 5 which had been reduced from a Par-4 to a Par-3 due to the wet conditions during round two, was once again played as a Par-4 in round three as the course dried up on Friday. The par for the course was therefore reverted from 69 to the original 70 during round three.
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Chadha, a two-time winner on the PGTI, said, “I kept myself in play throughout and was happy to not drop a shot once again. Besides the birdies I made two great par saves from 15 feet on the fifth and the 17th, both coming at crucial moments.” “I brought my experience into play when the conditions suddenly changed with the heavy rain on the last hole. I didn’t let it affect me mentally. I planned the last hole like a three-shot hole and made birdie there.” Sharma, searching for his first title, will be looking to emulate Chadha, who incidentally won the first of his two titles during his rookie season on the PGTI in 2012.
Among the Pune golfers, amateur Rohan Dhole Patil (75-67-68) was the highest-placed at tied 25th at a total of one-over 210.
Fourteen-year-old Australian amateur of Indian origin Aarav D Shah (69-70-71) was also in tied 25th place.