Jaipur, September 6: The third round of the Jaipur Open saw Patna's Aman Raj hit the front with a red-hot eight-under-62. It was the joint best round of the tournament so far and gave Aman a two-shot lead at 17-under-193. Bangladesh's Md Zamal Hossain Mollah, the second round leader, slipped to second place at 15-under-195 after his round of four-under-66 on Thursday (September 6).
Raj (64-67-62), who was overnight tied fourth and two off the lead, zoomed to the top in round three with his flawless effort that matched the tournament's best score achieved in round one by Sri Lankan Anura Rohana. The 23-year-old, who turned professional soon after winning the PGTI Qualifying School in 2016, is now staring at his maiden professional title.
Raj, who was India's top amateur in 2015, hit it with precision and rolled in all putts that came his way to pick up five birdies on the front-nine. He also made a brilliant par-save from 10 feet on the ninth. The leader, who has so far posted two runner-up finishes on the PGTI, then slowly worked his way to the top by adding three more birdies on the 14th, 17th and 18th. The 18th saw him make his longest conversion of the day, a 20-footer.
#JaipurOpen2018 @naam5 hits the front with a red-hot 8-under-62 in Rd three #RambaghGolfClub @HiltonHotels #HiltonJaipur @WIONews @dna @RsscSports @incredibleindia https://t.co/7wttRUCbC4 pic.twitter.com/NA3vcEH4pD— PGTI (@PGTITOUR) September 6, 2018
Raj, currently ranked 22nd on the PGTI Order of Merit, said, "Importantly, I didn't try too hard today. I felt I was in good rhythm from the very start. It was good to capitalize on all the four par-5s with birdies. Today's round was a lot like my opening round where everything clicked for me. I'll look to play in the same manner in the last round and focus on my course management."
Meanwhile, Mollah (65-64-66) came up with five birdies and a bogey during his round of 66 to close the day in second place. Gurgaon-based Veer Ahlawat (63) and Delhi's Honey Baisoya (66), the runner-up last year, were tied for third at 14-under-196. Chandigarh-based amateur Yuvraj Singh Sandhu dropped three places to fifth as a result of his 67. His total read 13-under-197.
Defending champion Shamim Khan (67) of Delhi was in tied 10th at nine-under-201 and so was Digvijay Singh of Gurgaon who produced two eagles during his breathtaking round of 63. Senior pro Jyoti Randhawa struck a 68 to be tied 30th at five-under-205. Hemendra Choudhary, the only Jaipur player to make the cut, occupied tied 36th after his round of 69 took his total score to four-under-206.