New Delhi, Feb 9: Braving tough conditions and strong field, Arjun Atwal and Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia shot steady third round to end the day at joint 5th to keep Indian hopes alive as the battle for the title got intense with France's Raphael Jacquelin leapfrogging into the lead at the end of the penultimate day of the EMMAR-MGF 2.5 million dollar Indian Masters Golf here today.
Overnight leader Damien McGrane (Ireland) also had poor three over 75 and with three round total of 211 (67,69,75) was a stroke behind the leader at joint second place with Spain's Jose Manuel Lara(68,72,71) and Northern Ireland's Greame McDowel (69,69,73). The chilly weather made things difficult for the players but Atwal and unfancied Chowrasia stuck to the basics and finished ahead of many big names.
Atwal, overnight joint sixth with 140, shot a par 72 round while Chowrasia came up with his third under par round as he shot his second successive one under 71 to total 212.
The US based Indian hit four birdies on 1st, 5th, 10th and 11th but spoiled the round by hiting a double bogey on the 7th besides dropping strokes on 15th and 16th.
Chowrasia, who had shot 70 and 71 this afternoon again fired 71. He had five birdies on 1st, 3rd, 12th, 16th and 17th but like Atwal he also had a double bogey. That was on the 10th and he also droped strokes on 15th and 18th.
There was no end to Jyoti Randhawa's misery. The fancied Indian was again duped by his favourite course as he came up with yet another disastrous round of five over par. After leading the field on the first day, this was his second successive score of 77 and with a total of 217 (67,75,75), he was at joint 23rd place along with another Indian Randhir Ghotra, who shot two under 70 today.
Jyoti had only two birdies (4th and 14th) while hitting five bogies (6th,7th,10th,1th and 18th).
Amandeep Johl had a poor day firing four over 76 that took his total to 220 while Ashok Kumar had three over 75 to aggregate 220 and both were at joint 42nd place Another first round hero Shiv Kumar's cup of woes brimmed over as he shot four over 76 and with a score of 6 over 222 (68,78,76) was at 55th place.
Shamin Khan scored four over 76 while C Muniyapa shot five over 77 and both total identical 7 over par 223 for tied 58th slot.
Rahul Ganpathy and former Indian open champion Ali Sher had a forgetful round as they both hit six over 78 and totalled identical 9 over 225 for joint 63rd place while Harmet Kahlon with eight over 83 totalled 13 over 228 and was lying at 69th.
''I played a decent game but also made silly mistakes'' said Atwal after his round. ''Double bogey on the 7th hurts, I did not need that double bogey.'' He described the day's proceedings as boring, ''it was a boring round, no long puts, no chips, nothing spectacular or special, though I had 3-4 god shots on my back.'' Atwal was of the view that he will need few more puts and some luck tomorrow to hope for a better finish.
Chowrasia on the other hand was upbeat, ''In such tough conditions, I think I did pretty well. It was a good round. To have three under par rounds in this level of competitions is very good.'' ''It was very windy and conditions were tough , I have never had encountered such conditions at the DGC but these were for everybody,'' said the unassuming Kolkatan.
''I started well with a birdie but the double bogey on the 10th spoiled my round.'' he said adding, ''I hope tomorrow will be better.'' Pre tournament favourite, South African Ernie Els made rapid progress as he moved up to the joint 10th place along with Indians Gaurav Ghei and Digvijay Singh.
Els, who was at joint 44th after second round, shot five under 69 to take his total to two under 214 (75,70,69).
Local favourite Gaurav Ghei also had a steady round of two under 70 for 214. He had four birdies (7th,8th,13th and 15th) while he hit bogeys (9th and 10th). His three round score is 75,69,70. Yesterday he was at joint 31st slot.
Digvijay, however slipped from yesterday's joint sixth place as he carded two over 74 and had three round total of 214 that put him in the company of Els, Ghei and three others.
''It was good round,'' Ghei said but pointed out to the fact that DGC conditions are no longer the same. ''I don't think locals have any special advantage on this course.'' Other favourites, Hendrick Buhrman (SA), Maarten Lafeber (Holland) and Ros McGowan (England) with three round aggregate of 213 were placed at joint seventh place.