Feb 18, 2017: Delhi’s Himmat Singh Rai and Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi carded matching one-under-70s in round three of the Rs. 40 lakh Golconda Masters 2017 to enjoy a slender one-shot lead at eight-under-205 and set up a fascinating final day at the Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC).
Shamim Khan of Delhi and Bengalurean Mari Muthu carded the day’s best scores of six-under-65 to be joint third along with veteran Mukesh Kumar (71) of Mhow at seven-under-206.
Himmat Singh Rai (67-68-70), who was part of the five-way lead on day two, maintained his position as joint leader on Saturday after a determined 70 that was highlighted by three birdies and two bogeys.
The former Asian Tour winner had a quiet front-nine barring the 20-feet birdie conversion on the third. He dropped a shot on the 10th but regained control with birdies on the 13th and 15th thanks to some superb chipping and putting. Just when Himmat was looking good for the sole lead, his decision to use the putter from the fringe instead of the wedge backfired on the 17th resulting in his second bogey.
The 29-year-old Rai had posted two top-3s on the Asian Tour in 2015 including a runner-up finish in Thailand where he lost out in a playoff to Spanish star Sergio Garcia. The Delhi-based golfer then had an average 2016 where his best result in Asia was tied 15th.
“I was not at my best last year but I still posted a few top-20 and top-30 finishes on the Asian Tour and the PGTI. However, I feel my game is now showing signs of returning. I’m being able to pull off shots I want to.
“The par-saves have been quite heartening over the last two days. I made a terrific recovery for par after finding the water hazard on the 17th in round two. I had two good par-saves today as well including an up and down from 100 yards on the eighth. The key will be to keep this momentum going in the final round,” said Himmat.
Khalin Joshi (65-70-70) also continued in the joint lead for the second straight day. Joshi, like Rai, made three birdies and two bogeys during his third round of 70. He made pars all through on the back-nine.
Joshi said, “I’m not really satisfied with my performance in the last two rounds. I’ve not been able to capitalize on the brilliant start in round one. Nonetheless, I’m still in the joint lead and can turn it around with better putting on the final day.”
Shamim Khan and Mari Muthu gained 22 places from their overnight tied 25th thanks to rounds of 65.
Shamim was rolling putts at will and was seven-under till the 16th but a three-putt on the 17th pegged him back to six-under for the day. Mari Muthu, on the other hand, didn’t leave himself too many long putts courtesy his accurate iron-play.
Mukesh Kumar, the overnight joint leader, slipped to tied third on day three after posting an even-par-71.
The other two joint halfway leaders, Abhijit Singh Chadha of Chandigarh and Australian Kunal Bhasin, also dropped down the leaderboard on Saturday. While Chadha shot a 73 to lie tied seventh at five-under-208, Bhasin produced a 75 to be in tied 12th at three-under-210.
The other prominent names who occupied tied 12th place were former champions and Chandigarh duo Ajeetesh Sandhu (73) and Harendra Gupta (68) as well as round one leader Sameer M Shaikh (73) of Pune and PGTI Order of Merit leader Honey Baisoya (69) of Delhi.