Bengaluru, Dec. 19: Chandigarh's Karandeep Kochhar moved into pole position with a two-shot lead at 11-under-205 in round three of the Bengaluru Open Golf Championship 2019, being played at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course.
The 20-year-old Kochhar, who was one shot off the lead in tied fourth at the halfway stage, produced a steady three-under-69 on Thursday to emerge as the prime contender for the title at the Rs. 40 lakh event which is also the penultimate leg of the 2019 TATA Steel PGTI season.
Bengaluru's Rahil Gangjee (71) and Faridabad-based Abhinav Lohan (70) were in tied second place at nine-under-207.
Karandeep Kochhar (67-69-69), still looking for his first title after turning professional, began well with long birdie conversions on the second and fifth despite being in trouble with his tee shots on both holes. An error in club selection on the sixth saw Karandeep find the water and drop his first bogey of the day.
Kochhar, the youngest ever player to win on the PGTI at age 17 years and five months while still an amateur, then landed it close to pick up two more birdies on the eighth and 12th. However, those two birdies were negated by Karandeep's two following birdies on the 13th and 15th, the former coming as a result of a three-putt.
Nonetheless, Kochhar managed to end the round on a high with two long birdie putts on the 16th and 18th on the most windy day of the tournament.
Karandeep, currently seventh in the PGTI Rankings thanks to his four top-10s this season, said, "It was great to end my round with two birdies for the second straight day. In round two, I made birdies on the closing 17th and 18th and today it was the 16th and 18th. So that helps me carry forward the momentum into the next round.
"I've been putting really well. I have a good feel of the green speed this week and am stroking my putts nicely. My course management has been great and I've scored and scrambled well. I'm also hitting it straight off the tee.
"I've made some mistakes in all three rounds but I've made more birdies than the number of mistakes. So that has kept me ahead. I made a really good recovery to make bogey on the sixth after finding the water hazard. That hole could've been worse for me. Now the key in the final round will be to keep the mistakes out."
Rahil Gangjee (68-68-71) will be playing with Kochhar for the third day in succession as he found himself a place in the final day's leadergroup after a round that featured five birdies and four bogeys. Rahil moved up two spots from his overnight tied fourth.
The 41-year-old Gangjee, a regular on the Japan Golf Tour and two-time winner on the Asian Tour, began on a promising note as he drove the green on the par-4 first hole for a birdie. After a bogey on the second Rahil once again made headway with birdies on the fifth and sixth. But thereafter, the gusty winds had an impact on Gangjee's round as he dropped three bogeys and picked up just two birdies between the seventh and 18th.
Abhinav Lohan's (70-67-70) third round 70 was punctuated by four birdies and two bogeys and it lifted him four spots from his overnight sixth position. Lohan has been in fine form over the past few months having earned his breakthrough win on the PGTI Feeder Tour and also posting tied 11th and tied 10th finishes at the PGTI events in Jaipur and Kolkata respectively.
Round two joint leaders Trishul Chinnappa of Bengaluru and Sudhir Sharma of Greater Noida shot rounds of 73 to slip to tied fourth at eight-under-208 along with Lucknow's Sanjeev Kumar (67).
Eighteen-year-old amateur Akshay Neranjan, playing only his second professional event, in seventh at seven-under-209 and M Dharma in tied eighth at six-under-210 made it four Bengalureans in the top-10.
Chandigarh's Yuvraj Singh Sandhu matched the tournament's best round of 65 to close the day in 11th place at five-under-211. Defending champion Anura Rohana of Sri Lanka was also placed tied 12th.
Source: PGTI Release