Gurgaon, March 11, 2017: Defending champion SSP Chawrasia kept Indian hopes alive at the Hero Indian Open 2017 on Saturday as he led the field along with Spaniard Carlos Pigem and Englishman Eddie Pepperell. The trio was placed at six-under through 11 holes in round three when play was suspended due to fading light.
The third round of the US$ 1.75 million event, co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour, will now resume at 0700 hrs on Sunday. The fourth and final round will begin soon after the completion of round three on Sunday.
SSP Chawrasia, looking to become only the second Indian after Jeev Milkha Singh to win four European Tour titles, enjoyed another fruitful day at the challenging DLF Golf & Country Club as his 11 holes in round three featured two birdies and a bogey.
The 38-year-old SSP, had an early blip when he bogeyed the second but then rallied with birdies on the fourth and ninth. His putter was on fire as he converted long putts for birdie and par on the fourth and sixth respectively. Chawrasia then landed it within five feet on the ninth to pick up his second birdie of the day. He has so far dropped only three bogeys in the tournament.
The gutsy Indian who now finds himself in a strong position to launch his bid for a title defence on Sunday, said, “I stuck to the same game plan that I have had for the first two rounds. I just want to hit straight, keep the ball in play and keep giving myself chances all the time. I’m happy that I managed to do that, despite the bogey I dropped.
“On this course, a few misses (on the green) are bound to happen, but one cannot think about them. For instance on the sixth, I had a long par putt and I holed it after coming out of the bunker. The key is not to give away loose shots. Birdies are so difficult to find on this course and they require a lot of hard work, so to give away a bogey is painful.
“I wanted to cut down unnecessary risks and stay focused on my plan and it has worked well so far. Last night I was relaxed and just focused on positive thoughts from last year and resolved to stay focused. I have not looked at what others are doing – it does not matter if someone else is going for the green or trying something else. I will do what I have planned and what has worked for me.”
Anirban Lahiri, who was three-under through his 16 holes in round three, was the next best placed Indian at two-over.
Shubhankar Sharma and Chiragh Kumar posted third round scores of 71 to total three-over-219.
Among the other prominent Indian names, Arjun Atwal, even-par through 14 holes, had a total of six-over, Chikkarangappa came up with a third round 75 that took his total to seven-over-223, Jyoti Randhawa was six-over through 17 holes that also placed him at seven-over, Gaganjeet Bhullar carded a 76 to end the third round at eight-over-224 and Rashid Khan’s seven-over through 16 holes moved his score to 12-over.
Earlier in the day, the unfinished second round was completed. Malaysia's Danny Chia (69) and England’s Eddie Pepperell (70) finished as joint second round leaders at 5-under-139 along with defending champion Chawrasia.
The cut was applied at 6-over-150 with 69 golfers including 15 Indians making it into the money rounds.
Apart from Chawrasia, the other prominent Indians who made it to the weekend included three-time winner Jyoti Randhwa and Digvijay Singh, both of whom incidentally had the best second round score of two-under-70 among Indians after Chawrasia.
While Randhawa was placed joint 19th at one-over-145, Digvijay was in joint 28th place at three-over-147.
Chikkarangappa, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Chiragh Kumar, Shamim Khan, Shubhankar Sharma and amateur Rigel Fernandes were all clubbed at joint 38th place at four-over-148.
Former champion Anirban Lahiri (73,76), Rashid Khan and Abhijit Singh Chadha at 5-over-144 took joint 51st place while Deepinder Singh Kullar, Ajetesh Sandhu and Arjun Atwal were in tied 59th at 6-over-150.
Among the prominent Indians who missed the cut were, Shiv Kapur (151), Mukesh Kumar (152), Rahil Gangjee (156), former champions Feroz Ali Mollah (157) and C Muniyappa (169) as well as Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh (169).