In-form Om Prakash Chouhan opens up four-shot lead in round three to emerge hot favourite for title
Hole-in-One by Udayan Mane
TATA Steel PGTI Ranking leader Om Prakash Chouhan continued his hot streak in what has been the best season of his golfing career so far. The 37-year-old from Mhow, a three-time winner this season, carded a resolute two-under 70 to open up an impressive four-shot lead at a total of seven-under 209 after the third round of the INR 1 crore SSP Chawrasia Invitational 2023 presented by TAKE Sports being played at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).
Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat was next best in second place at three-under 213 following his round of 71.
Earlier in the day, round two resumed at 6:30 am local time. The 58 players who had unfinished rounds from Friday, completed their second rounds by 9:30 am on Saturday. The second round ended with Rahil Gangjee and Om Prakash Chouhan as joint leaders at a total of five-under 139. The cut fell at seven-over 151 with 51 professionals making it to the money rounds. Indian golf legend and tournament host SSP Chawrasia missed the cut by one shot.
Round three got underway at 10:10 am on a bright and sunny day with the weather having cleared out.
Om Prakash Chouhan (70-69-70) got his round going with three early birdies on the first five holes where he also made a bogey. Chouhan then hit a rough patch with a couple of inaccurate shots that led to bogeys on the sixth and eighth.
However, Om Prakash or ‘OP’ as he is known, managed to regain control with this third long birdie conversion of the day, a 15-footer on the ninth. Chouhan had a steady back-nine making one birdie and eight pars that helped him build a substantial lead.
OP, looking to build further on his lead in the PGTI Order of Merit this week, said, “It was very important for me to score well today because I’ve always played the third round badly at this venue and as a result have lost momentum in the past. On the front-nine, I didn’t really feel I was in control of my game as I hit a couple of poor tee shots. But after the birdie on the ninth, Piyush, my caddie this week, really encouraged me to focus and not get distracted even if the birdies didn’t come.
“My putting stood out today as I made quite a few long putts. I also capitalized on both the par-5s. I birdied the par-5 15th for the third day running. I’ll not look to try too much on the final day as that can lead to losing a few shots. I will instead just play my game,” added Chouhan, who is now on the cusp of setting a new PGTI record by breaking the INR 1 crore barrier in season’s earnings.
Veer Ahlawat (74-68-71), two-time winner on the PGTI, shot two birdies and a bogey during his third round to move up three spots into second position.
The four players bunched in third place at two-under 214 were American Varun Chopra (69), Rashid Khan (69), Angad Cheema (72) and Udayan Mane (73).
Udayan Mane struck a hole-in-one on the 13th during his third round.
Rahil Gangjee, who grew up playing at RCGC, slipped to tied eighth at even-par 216 after his 77 in round three.
Last year’s champion Manu Gandas was placed tied 24th at six-over 222.
Round 3 Leaderboard:
209: Om Prakash Chouhan (70-69-70)
213: Veer Ahlawat (74-68-71)
214: Varun Chopra (73-72-69); Rashid Khan (75-70-69); Angad Cheema (75-67-72); Udayan Mane (73-68-73)
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