30 March 2019: On another warm and eventful day at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurugram, S Chikkarangappa took center stage with a sensational 66 in the third round. The low round of the day helped the Indian inch his way up inside the top ten. Julian Suri remained in firm control of the lead, till he reached the 18th tee. The American flew left and the ball was lost in the grassy hazard to the left of the fairway leading to a double bogey, allowing Callum Shinkwin a night in the share of the lead as the Hero Indian Open reached an exciting climax.
Suri had to content himself with a 71, courtesy the spill at the end. Shinkwin was four under on Saturday as he moved up to 11-under, bringing himself into the final group on Sunday. Japanese Masahiro Kawamura, two off the pace, will keep the two men company after shooting a fine 68 in the third round.
Stephen Gallacher worked his way back into the mix with a timely 67, his second of the week. After a painstaking 74 on Friday, the Scotsman is firmly back in the reckoning at 8-under through 54 holes. Robert Karlsson is in the fifth spot, despite only managing a 73 today, one ahead of Chikkarangappa and three others.
Saturday is indeed moving day but the big move came from unexpected quarters. After scores of 74 and 70, Chikkarangappa was comfortably into the weekend, but driving from T45 at the end of the first day, he certainly flew nicely under the radar.
A pair of birdies to start the day put Chikkarangappa on the locomotive. And he made the ride count, adding another birdie at the fourth to move up the order. But the big jump came at the bend where he made three straight birdies from the 9th to break inside the top ten and hijack the conversation.
Chikkarangappa extricated himself from a tricky spot on the 15th with a solid up and down effort, but the five iron flew into the rough on the 17th. It would end up being the only bogey on his card on Saturday.
At 6-under, Chikka is lying tied with James Morrison, Matthias Schwab, Mikko Korhonen and George Coetzee.
“I am very happy with the way I played,” said Chikka. “I hit it really well today – everything was inside of twelve feet on the green and I think I nearly made each of the fairways in the round.
“I am in the right area now just need to go out there and enjoy myself, that way I have been doing past couple of months. no expectations. Just go out here and play happy golf.”
“I am working with Laurence Brotheridge and his inputs are helping me play a high level of golf. I hope to continue the run and finish with a good run on Sunday,” he added immediately after posting the low round of the day.
Julian began on a positive note, making an eight-footer for birdie on the first hole. He added another at the next to increase his cushion to four strokes. An unexpected blip came at the seventh where the American flew wide and left. Forced to play sideways to get the ball back where it needed to be, Suri conceded a bogey.
The determined golfer grit his teeth and produced three straight birdies from the 8th to stamp his authority on the course. It was a fiery response from a golfer committed to nothing short of a victory this week. Birdies at the 10th and 15th were punctuated by a bogey at the par-4 14th hole.
Unfortunately though with the day’s work nearly done, Suri had an untimely lapse. He sailed left of the 18th fairway and the ball was lost in the hazard. He played the provisional, which lay sympathetically on the fairway, but it was already his third shot. Suri reached the fringe beyond the flag in five. Despite showing great touch for an up and down from that spot, the two spilt strokes drew him back to level terms with Shinkwin, setting up a mouth watering duel on Sunday.
Shubhankar Sharma had to work his way back after conceding a double bogey on the second hole. He did so pretty well to sign on a hard-earned 71 which included five birdies. The top ranked Indian is lying T15 through 54 holes at three under 213. Rashid Khan made an even 72 and is lying T21 at -2.
SSP Chawrasia made a 71 to end the day at +1 in T47, with Ajeetesh Sandhu (73) a stroke adrift from there. Separated by another stroke is Gaurav Pratap Singh who has Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rahil Gangjee in his wake.