PANCHKULA: Veer Ahlawat kept the lead in round three of the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship presented by Govt. of Haryana & Panchkula Golf Club (PGC) despite a quiet day on the course.
The Gurugram-based 25-year-old Ahlawat (67-62-71), followed up his whirlwind 62 in round two with a sedate one-under 71 on Friday to move his tournament total to 16-under 200. Veer’s mixed round saw him pick up five birdies at the expense of four bogeys.
Noida’s Amardeep Malik (71-65-66) was breathing down the leader’s neck at the culmination of the penultimate round as he struck a terrific 66 consisting of eight birdies and two bogeys to be placed second at 14-under 202.
Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa S (69-65-69) was also in contention in third place at 13-under 203 along with Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra (65-70-69) who occupied fourth at 12-under 204.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (66) was the highest-placed among the Chandigarh golfers as he closed the day in tied fifth at 11-under 205 along with Om Prakash Chouhan (66) of Mhow and M Dharma (70) of Bengaluru.
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh shot the day’s best score of seven-under 65 to move up 34 places into tied 15th at six-under 210. His round featured an eagle, six birdies and a bogey.
Earlier in the day, the second round was completed by the 65 players who couldn’t finish their rounds on Thursday due to the rain and resulting delayed start. At the end of round two, the cut was declared at one-over 145 as fifty-six professionals and one amateur made it to the money rounds. Veer Ahlawat enjoyed a five-shot lead at 15-under 129 at the halfway stage while Chikkarangappa was second at 10-under 134.
Veer Ahlawat had a forgettable front-nine courtesy his inconsistent chipping as he claimed just two birdies and dropped three bogeys. He had a far better back-nine with three birdies and a bogey that helped him stay the course despite his putts not rolling in. Veer’s last birdie on the 16th was a 15-feet conversion.
Ahlawat, looking for his second title, said, “I had a decent round as I continued to hit it well especially off the tee. But it was one of those days when the putts just didn’t roll in for me, the exact opposite of what happened in round two when I converted everything on the greens. To make matters worse my chipping was totally off as I didn’t land it close enough to the flag to be able to make chip-putts.
“The key will be to hit maximum fairways in the final round and I feel making greens in regulation will be even more crucial. I’ll take heart from the fact that I hit just one bad drive today and pulled things back on the back-nine.”
Amardeep Malik, lying tied fifth and seven off the lead after round two, began with a two-under on the front-nine but picked up pace in the second half of his round with five birdies and a bogey to narrow down the gap with the leader to two shots.
Malik, a two-time winner on the PGTI, sank a 20-footer for birdie on the 15th before going on to make a good par save on the 16th despite a poor tee shot. However, he had a lip out in his 20 feet birdie putt on the 18th where he had to settle for par.
Amardeep said, “I’ve been striking it well since last week. Importantly, today I didn’t let the bogey on the 13th break my momentum as I finished well after that to get close to the lead.
“I know I just have to be patient and continue playing the way I have played so far.”
Ranjit Singh was the second Chandigarh player in the top-10 after Yuvraj Singh Sandhu. Ranjit was placed tied eighth at 10-under 206 along with Delhi’s Rashid Khan and rookie Kartik Sharma of Gurugram.
PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh occupied tied 11th place at nine-under 207.Chandigarh’s Bishmadpal Singh Seerha, the lone amateur to make the cut, was tied 39th at even-par 216.