Gaganjeet Bhullar failed to press ahead his advantage at the M2M Russian Open as he slipped to a 75 to slide down the leaderboard. SSP Chowrasia made an even 72 with a colourful round of golf to gain nine spots to T52. Bhullar dropped 13 places to T18 as he closed the third round at 3-under 213. Peter Whiteford scored 66 to join David Horsey in the lead at 13-under 203.
Bhullar sandwiched a birdie on the front nine between bogeys at the second and fifth holes to slip to one over for the third round. But the man from Kapurthala recovered quickly with back to back birdies at the 7th and 8th to complete the turn in 35.
There was disaster just round the corner though – as Bhullar was all at sea on the par-3 13th hole. Eventually, it took him a triple bogey to get past an innocuous place at the Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club with his card reading 4-under.
Bhullar gave away another shot at the 16th hole – another par-3 as he joined seven other golfers at 213 for T18. Meanwhile, Chowrasia was scripting a recovery, having made a terrible beginning to his round. The 36 year old man had a double bogey at the par-4 first hole and followed that with a 5 at the second to go five over.
Though birdies at four and seven helped the golfer from Kolkata to mitigate some of the damage, he needed a good back nine to salvage the situation. It was exactly what he got as he made three birdies on the back nine to go one under for the round.
An unfortunate two putt at the final hole lost him a shot, but the 72 was enough to give him a chance at working his way inside the top 40 on Sunday. Italian Andres Pavan made a brilliant 64 with eight birdies to soar into a tie for third, with the best round of the day.
Whiteford and Horsey had a four shot advantage on Pavan after taking contrasting routes. The Englishman posted a 70 – with five birdies and three bogeys as he reached 13-under going into Sunday. Whiteford’s round was highlighted by an eagle at the 8th and five birdies as he raced through the front nine in just 30 shots.
Report by Anand Datla