Shamim Khan fires 63 to soar into the Pune Open lead

Shamim Khan was in sublime form as he jumped from 13th to 1st with a superb 63 on Thursday

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Shamim Khan - Round 3 leader

PGTI Tour Release

April 7, 2016: Delhi’s Shamim Khan fired a course record nine-under-63 at the Oxford Golf Resort to snatch the round three lead at the inaugural Pune Open on Thursday. Khan’s immaculate third round effort pushed his tournament total up to 11-under-205 that placed him one shot ahead at the Rs. 30 lakh event.

Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta and Mandeo Singh Pathania of Greater Noida were tied second at 10-under-206 as they recorded third round scores of 69 and 71 respectively.

Shamim Khan (70-72-63), who was overnight tied 13th, lying seven behind the lead, climbed atop the leader board in round three courtesy a phenomenal bogey-free round of 63 which broke the previous course record of eight-under-64 of Bengaluru’s Abhishek Jha. Jha had posted the previous record score during the PGTI Players Championship in 2011.

Shamim went on a birdie-blitz early in his round, picking up strokes on the second, third, fourth, sixth and ninth. On the front-nine, the 2012 Rolex Ranking champion, drained three birdie putts from nine to 12 feet and also chipped it to within inches of the cup for birdies on two occasions.

Khan, a winner of 11 titles, kept hitting it close on the back-nine and thus pocketed four more birdies. One of the highlights of his day was the 20-feet birdie conversion on the 14th. The 37-year-old, one of the most consistent performers on the PGTI, is now well-placed to win his first title in over a year.

“I just kept setting up birdie opportunities for myself through the day thanks to some accurate hitting. My chipping was top-class and my putting also clicked for the first time this week. Importantly, I kept the errors out.

“I had dropped shots towards the end of the round on both day one and day two, but I didn’t repeat that today. My best birdie of the day came on the 14th where I sank a tough sideways putt from 20-feet. That conversion gave me the confidence to finish the round well as I added another birdie on the closing 18th,” said Shamim.

He added, “At this course, it takes a lot to keep your focus going, as walking on the undulating fairways can be quite draining. That’s why it’ll be imperative to concentrate harder in the final round. I’ll have to judge the lines and the speed on the greens well in order to stay ahead on the last day. I’ve already had four top-10s from five starts this year and this is a great opportunity for me to finally win a title at Oxford, a course where I’ve come close to winning earlier.”

Harendra Gupta (72-65-69), who was overnight sole second, ended round three in tied second place to keep himself in contention. Gupta was in trouble early on as he found bunkers on every hole till the sixth. On that stretch, he suffered two bogeys but also managed to salvage a birdie and three pars as a result of some brilliant bunker shots.

Harendra picked up pace from the ninth by adding four more birdies to his card. He produced his best birdie of the day on the 16th where he once again came up with a spectacular bunker shot.

Gupta said, “I’ve kept myself in the reckoning thanks to my good recoveries from the bunkers today. I could’ve been in deep trouble had I not got those early birdies from tough positions. I had a far better back-nine as I was more relaxed after having negotiated the front-nine without much damage.

“I was drawing most of my tee shots today. I’ll have to rectify that if I want to be in contention in the last round,” added Harendra.

Mandeo Singh Pathania (69-66-71), the round two leader, slipped to joint second place after a score of 71 that featured two birdies and a bogey. Pathania had an ordinary day with the putter having totalled 36 putts.

“I’m right there in the mix but I need a few more putts to fall. I felt I was trying a bit too hard on the greens today and that resulted in a number of missed putts. Hopefully, a hot putter in round four will put me back on track,” said Pathania.

Delhi’s Rashid Khan struck a 65 on Thursday to climb from tied 13th to fourth at nine-under-207.

Gaganjeet Bhullar was placed tied ninth at six-under-210 after his third round of 71.

Pravin Pathare was the highest-placed among the professionals from Pune. He closed round three in tied 27th at even-par-216.

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