The seasoned Mukesh Kumar of Mhow shot a resolute three-under-68 to take the third round lead at the Golconda Masters 2018 presented by Telangana Tourism, a Rs. 30 lakh event being played at the Hyderabad Golf Association (HGA) course.
The 52-year-old Mukesh, who holds the record for being the oldest champion on the PGTI, went one ahead on the penultimate day as his total moved to 12-under-201.
Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (68) and Ahmedabad’s Udayan Mane (69) were hot on the leader’s heels in tied second at 11-under-202.
Mukesh Kumar (67-66-68), lying four off the lead in tied second at the start of round three, suffered an early setback when he bogeyed the first. But the man with over 120 professional titles to his name thereafter rallied with three birdies on the front-nine.
Mukesh, who finished third at the Golconda Masters last year, further picked up the pace with a 20-feet eagle conversion on the 10th and a terrific tee shot on the par-3 11th that set up a tap-in birdie. However, a couple of poor approach shots on the 12th and 14th resulted in bogeys and put the brakes on his round.
Nonetheless, Mukesh hung on to the lead till the end thanks to pars on the last four holes.
Mukesh said, “I’m quite happy with today’s effort as the wind was up and the pin positions were quite tough so it was not easy to shoot an under-par score. I really got a lot of confidence after the eagle on the 10th but couldn’t capitalize on that by scoring low on the back-nine. The missed birdie opportunity from three feet on the 18th was a big letdown.
“I’m eager to win my first event at this magnificent venue after having come so close last year. I’ve been hitting it well, but to stay ahead in round four I’ll have to improve on my putting. I’ve missed a few too many birdie chances on the greens. That needs to change.”
Udayan Mane (67-66-69) continued in tied second for the second successive day after a round of 69. Mane’s round featured four birdies and two bogeys with his best shot of the day coming on the 13th. Despite not having a full swing, Udayan landed his approach from 105 yards to six feet to pick up a birdie.
Mane, who finished second on the 2017 PGTI Order of Merit, courtesy three wins in the season, said, “It was an average round for me but my course management was good. I managed well with what I had.
“It’s going to be a tough contest with the experienced Mukesh Kumar in the final round. He is so determined and can be tough to beat even when he’s not at his best. Accuracy and patience will be the key in round four.”
N Thangaraja (65-69-68) moved up four places from overnight tied sixth after recording a 68. Thangaraja, also a winner on the PGTI, began the day with two bogeys on the first three holes but then made a valiant comeback adding six birdies at the cost of just one bogey.
Round two leader Angad Cheema of Panchkula dropped to tied fourth at 10-under-203 as a result of his third round of 74. The others in joint fourth were 2017 PGTI Order of Merit champion Shamim Khan (68) of Delhi and Chandigarh’s Abhijit Singh Chadha (68).
Sujjan Singh of Chandigarh brought in the day’s best card of six-under-65 that moved him into tied 14th at seven-under-206. His error-free round was highlighted by four consecutive birdies from the fifth to the eighth.