Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru fired a sublime 10-under 62, to lead the third and penultimate round of the Rs. 3-crore TATA Steel Tour Championship being played at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses in Jamshedpur.
Chikka’s total moved to 17-under 199 giving him a one-shot advantage. Fourteen-time PGTI winner Chikka (66-71-62), who has been a runner-up on two previous occasions in Jamshedpur, zoomed 12 spots from his overnight tied 13th following his extraordinary third-round effort that featured two early eagles.
Delhi’s Kapil Kumar (63-70-67), lying overnight tied second, produced a 67 on Friday to close the day in lone second place at 16-under 200 and maintain himself in the top-3 for the third day running at the richest-ever event on the PGTI. Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (69-67-65) struck a 65 to move up six spots to third position at 15-under 201.
Manu Gandas of Gurugram was in a good position to stake his claim for the PGTI Order of Merit title as his round of 68 saw him continue in tied fourth place at 14-under 202, comfortably ahead of his nearest rivals for the title – Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (tied 14th at 10-under 206), Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow (tied 17th at nine-under 207) and Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Sandhu (tied 42nd at one-under 215).
Second-round leader Mohd Azhar (70) of Vikarabad, slipped three spots to join Gandas and Karandeep Kochhar (68) of Chandigarh in tied fourth place.
Chikkarangappa , who returned the week’s lowest score so far, was off to an unbelievable start on day three as he made eagles on the second and fourth holes with 15-feet conversions on both occasions. He also narrowly missed an eagle from 20 feet on the third where he settled for a birdie. The bogey on the fifth didn’t upset Chikka’s momentum as he continued to fire in his irons and wedges within close range picking up birdies on the sixth, seventh and ninth. He then made further in-roads on the back-nine claiming four birdies including two from 12 feet in exchange for a bogey.
“It was a dream round. Even though I've been playing well of late. Sinking two eagles early on gave me good momentum to carry forward. Comparing the two courses I would say, Golmuri is on the shorter side where a lot of people go for birdies and eagles. "said Chikka
Kapil Kumar bogeyed his first two holes after missing short putts. But his ball-striking got him back in the game as he traded eight birdies for a lone bogey thereafter.
Khalin Joshi’s eagle on the second where he landed his approach from 240 yards within inches of the pin set up his round. He then added six more birdies at the expense of one bogey.
Shiv Kapur was seventh at 13-under 203, Jyoti Randhawa was tied 14th at 10-under 206, defending champion Udayan Mane and SSP Chawrasia were tied 17th at nine-under 207, Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 24th at eight-under 208 and Jeev Milkha Singh was tied 69th at 10-over 226.
The two Jamshedpur-based professionals, Karan Taunk (even-par 216) and Kurush Heerjee (three-over 219) were placed tied 46th and tied 56th respectively.