Bengaluru, Feb 13: Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat fired a second successive seven-under-65 to open a two-shot lead at the end of the third round of the Rs. 30 lakh TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship 2020 presented by Eagleton. Veer is now 19-under-197.
Patna’s Aman Raj also fired a second straight 67 to occupy second place at 17-under-199 at the second event of the 2020 TATA Steel PGTI season.
Bengaluru’s Mari Muthu made two eagles en route his 66 to move into third place at 15-under-201.
Shubhankar Sharma, the pre-tournament favourite and defending champion, carded a 72 in round three to lie tied 32nd at even par 216.
Ahlawat (67-65-65) was solid through the first 10 holes making three birdies and an eagle. Two of Ahlawat’s early birdies came from close range, a result of his good ball-striking. On the 10th, Veer made a great recovery from the rough with a nine-iron approach that landed seven feet from the pin and led to an eagle.
Ahlawat, who was also the third-round leader at last week’s event in Hyderabad, then slowed down with bogeys on the 11thand 14th making a three-putt on the former and misjudging the wind with a wrong club selection on the latter.
However, the 23-year-old did make further gains setting up birdie conversions within eight feet on the 12th, 16th, 17th and 18thas he managed to end the round with a flurry.
Veer said, “I was hitting pretty solid and whatever birdies I made were within 10 feet. I found most of the fairways today and my second shots were generally close to the flag. My short-iron and wedge shots were quite accurate today. I also holed those crucial 6 to 7 footers, which were very important to go low on this course.
“It’s now about driving home the advantage. I will play it hole by hole and not think too far ahead. If I continue to strike the ball the way I’ve been doing for the past three days, I believe I have a good chance of winning,” added Ahlawat, who bagged his maiden title on the PGTI in November last year.
Aman Raj (65-67-67), the overnight joint leader along with Ahlawat, continued as a top contender as a result of his 67 on day three. His round featured six birdies and a bogey.
Mari Muthu’s 66 featured eagles on the par-5s seventh and 10th. He also sank four birdies and dropped a double-bogey in round three, which saw him climb three spots from his overnight tied sixth.
Pune-based Udayan Mane, last week’s winner, and Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa returned scores of 67. While Mane was placed fourth at 14-under-202, Chikka was a further shot back in fifth position.Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (72) was in seventh at 11-under-205.
Gurugram’s Manu Gandas shot the day’s best score of 64. He was placed tied eighth at nine-under-207.
Aditya Raj Kumar Chauhan set a new record on the PGTI by making consecutive eagles in his round. Chauhan, a former winner on the PGTI Feeder Tour, began his day with a bogey on the 10th before he came roaring back with birdies on the 14thand 15th followed by eagles on the 16th and 17th and another birdie on the 18th. He made pars all the way through the front-nine. He is lying T-16that six-under-210.
Aditya’s first eagle came on the par-4 16th where he holed his second shot, a sand wedge, from 118 yards. He then drove the green on the par-4 17th to set up a four-feet eagle putt, which he drained.
Shubhankar Sharma mixed three birdies with a bogey and a double-bogey in his round of 72. He was in tied 32nd place.