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Bengaluru, 05 Aug 2017

Bengaluru boys Joshi, Chikka, stay in the hunt, hot on leader Poom’s heels

Lohan equals tournament best of 64, Dharma fires albatross

Overnight leader Poom Saksansin’s lead was reduced from four shots to two on the penultimate day of the TAKE Solutions Masters 2017 as the Indian duo of Khalin Joshi and Chikkarangappa, both Bengaluru lads, gave the Thai a run for his money at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course.

While Saksansin (70) led the field at 12-under-201, Khalin Joshi’s hard-earned three-under-68 kept him in second at a total of 10-under-203 at the US$300,000 event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGTI. Chikka’s two-under-69 meant he closed the day in third place at eight-under-205.

Khalin Joshi (68-67-68), trailing leader Poom by four at the start of the day, seemed up for the fight on the first five holes as he struck it well to pick up two birdies. But a poor tee shot on the sixth just broke his rhythm as he dropped his first shot of the day. Joshi, still looking for his maiden Asian Tour title, conceded another bogey and a double-bogey over the next three holes.

Khalin, who was seven off the lead after 10 holes, then rallied with an incredible five birdies on the back-nine to close the gap to two shots. The 24-year-old, playing at his home course, landed it within six feet on four occasions on the back-nine.
  
Joshi said, “I have mixed feelings about the round as I didn’t play that well. The front-nine was poor but I had a good comeback on the back-nine.

“I felt I was just hurrying it a little towards the end of the front-nine and that affected my momentum. Importantly, I didn’t give up and hung in there despite those dropped shots on the front-nine.

“Thereafter the birdie on the 11th helped me calm down. The birdie on the 14th despite a poor tee shot also lifted my spirits. I enjoyed a great stretch from there on including a quality par-save on the 17th.

“I’ll carry some confidence from the latter stages of the round. I’ve not played my best today, but I hope I can bring out my ‘A’ game tomorrow and finish the week in style.

“I’ll be working on my swing today and will look to make an early run in the final round with some birdies at the start. The focus will be to play error-free golf.”

Chikkarangappa (68-68-69), like his friend Khalin, also had a much better back-nine on day three. He was one-over at the turn but then sank some long putts from a range of 10 to 20 feet for his four birdies in the second half that helped him end the day with a 69.

Chikka, who won his last tournament here, a PGTI event, back in October 2016, pulled out a new three-wood on Saturday in order to fix the issue he had with his tee shots on day two.

Chikka, a two time winner on the Asian Development Tour, said, “I didn’t use the driver today and only teed off with the three-wood and that helped. The birdie on 18 was very special. I really wanted to be in the leader group so I told my caddy that I’ll either gain or lose a shot so I attacked the green. I then two-putted from 50-feet for birdie.
 
“The final round is going to be good fun playing with my good friends Khalin (Joshi) and Poom (Saksansin). We played a lot of junior golf together and we will really battle it out tomorrow.
 
“It makes a lot of difference for me (to be in the last group) because I know what the guys are doing. I have a higher chance to be aggressive and go for shots which I have to.
 
“It is absolutely like when I won my first ADT event (in 2014). I was six shots behind and I won. I’m still looking for one solid round so hopefully it comes on the final day.
 
“There’s a lot of advantage of being a local boy. There will be a huge crowd supporting Khalin and me on Sunday.”

Abhinav Lohan of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, matched the tournament’s best score of 64 to rise from overnight tied 32nd to tied fourth at seven-under-206.

Lohan said, “I feel good. I made a few mistakes yesterday. I made a nine on a par-five so it was nice to shoot a low round today. I hit it close and rolled my putts in. I kept it fairly simple.
 
“I’m wearing Shubhankar Sharma’s pants so maybe that’s why it brought me luck. We are staying with Khalin (Joshi) this week and Shubhankar had three of the same pants and we use the same size. He gave one to me and I said I’ll wear it tomorrow! So I guess this is his lucky pants.”

Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj, who posted a third round of 69, shared the fourth spot with Lohan to make it four Indians in the top-five.

Ajeetesh Sandhu and Syed Saqib Ahmed, placed tied eighth at five-under-208, were the other Indians in the top-10.

The Indian quartet of Jyoti Randhawa, Rahil Gangjee, Viraj Madappa and Sujjan Singh were bunched together in tied 13th at four-under-209.

M Dharma, another Bengaluru golfer, made an exceptional albatross on the par-five fifth when he holed his three-wood approach from a distance of 270 yards. He carded a 69 to be placed tied 18th at three-under-210 along with the likes of fellow Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar, Manu Gandas and Honey Baisoya.

Indians Shiv Kapur, SSP Chawrasia, Shubhankar Sharma and Aman Raj were tied for 25th at two-under-211.
 
 

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Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Gautam Thapar (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.

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