28 July 2018: The South Westerly winds at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club made for a riveting third day’s play in the Royal Cup. Shiv Kapur rose to the occasion, firing a brilliant 67 to plant himself firmly in the contention for Sunday. The defending champion will play in the final group on Sunday with leader Justin Harding, who made his first bogey for the week at the 18th on Saturday. Kapur is 9-under 201, with Harding ahead by two strokes. Gaganjeet Bhullar is lying at T9, a 69 in the third round helping him up to 5-under through 54 holes.
Shiv started the day six strokes adrift of Harding, but with conditions relatively taxing, he worked his way up the order. In contrast, Harding was riding a steady train of pars before a bogey at the final hole dropped him to 71, cutting his lead to just two strokes.
A bogey at the par-3 seventh hole threatened to draw Kapur in the wrong direction, but the gritty Indian made birdie at the next hole to claw back the lost stroke. A birdie at the eleventh was negated by a bogey at the twelth hole, but Kapur went on a rampage from there to force his way into solo second.
“It was a pretty good round, conditions were tough with swirly winds and moving in a different direction from the past two rounds,” explained Shiv Kapur. “The greens got firmer and it was tough to hold the ball on the greens and tougher to hole putts.
“Nothing much was happening up till hole 14 when I made a good putt to get some momentum going. Had a good chip on hole 16 to make birdie and on 17 I holed a 30-footer for birdie again,” he added.
“Happy with the way I finished since all the action happened for me on the last five holes. It was just one of those days where you stay patient when the conditions are tough and you get rewarded.”
Harding is chasing back to back victories, coming off his maiden Asian Tour success in the Indonesia Open a couple of weeks ago. After posting 64s in the first two rounds, the putter went cold on Saturday. A wayward tee shot at the 18th resulted in the lone blemish on his card this week.
“It was a strange day honestly. Didn’t enjoy making bogey on the last hole but I played solid. Can’t complain about the way I hit it today guess I was just unlucky today,” surmised a disappointed Harding. “Hit a couple of bad putts on the back nine but I was never in trouble ever throughout the round.
“It’s weird to say this but I am actually happy the bogey came because I would’ve actually liked to get the bogey towards the start of the round just to get it out of the way but it is what it is. I misjudged the wind and pulled my shot on that hole.”
Jarin Todd stayed under 70 for a third day running and is lying in third place currently, one behind Shiv. Mark Brown and Naoto Nakanishi were lying in T4 a further stroke behind the American.
Bhullar had a commedable day on the course, spotless and brilliant for his 69. The only incident on his card was a fine birdie at the 355 yard par-4 14th hole. Viraj Madappa is in T24, after he too carded a 69, containing three birdies.
Chikkarangappa played to his potential is shooting a fine 67. He worked his way up to T30. Keeping him company is Honey Baisoya, who signed on a disappointing 72.
Khalin Joshi and Himmat Rai are lying in T38. The latter scored an even 70 while Khalin signed on a 71. Rashid Khan brought up the rear end at T63 with a 72 on Saturday.