Osaka, Japan, 21 Apr 2018

Rahil Gangjee in the hunt, lies second and trails the leader by one going into the final day of Panasonic Open Golf Championship

Ajeetesh Sandhu in tied seventh

India’s Rahil Gangjee took sole second place at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship on Saturday thanks to his third round of three-under-68.

Gangjee’s (69-65-68) three-day total of 11-under-202 placed him one shot behind leader Hyungsung Kim of Korea at the Ibaraki Country Club where the JP¥150,000,000 (approx. US$1,370,000) Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) co-sanctioned event is being held.

Rahil, who has been winless on the Asian Tour since 2004, fired his first salvo with two opening birdies. He dropped a shot on six but recovered well with another pair of birdies on eight and nine.

The 39-year-old Indian then struggled on his back-nine as he was caught off guard by the swirling winds that proved to be a huge challenge.

Gangjee’s last win on the Asian Tour came in 2004 in China where he beat a top field that included Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes Phillip Price, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo. He had several close finishes since then, most notably at the Panasonic Open India in 2014 when he lost in a play-off to S.S.P. Chawrasia.

Rahil, who had not made a single cut since the start of the year, said, “The last six holes were really not up to my expectations but I’ll take this score anytime. The winds got up on the back-nine and started swirling on a few holes. That put me in a lot of spots on a few holes. It was definitely a factor.

“It was fun playing with Shingo as there was a large crowd following us. It’s nice not only to be playing with a superstar over here but to have the crowd cheering you regardless of whether you’re Japanese or not.

“I’ll definitely feel a little bit of pressure tomorrow.  It has been a while since I won and I really want to do well. I’ve been putting my head down and practicing more. That has basically made the difference this week.”

India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (69-69-68) also remained in contention for his second Asian Tour win after he carded a 68 which took him to a share of seventh place at seven-under-206.

Ajeetesh said, “I was a little disappointed as I three-putted the 17th and didn’t birdie the 18th. I could have been nine-under easily but there’s still one more day to go. I just want to play my own game like I usually do.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge tomorrow. I really enjoy playing in Japan as the conditions are absolutely perfect here. I relish the challenges here especially since I’ve also won once on the Challenge Tour over here.”

The three other Indians in the fray also made major gains on day three. Arjun Atwal climbed to tied 14th at six-under-207 after a third round of 66, SSP Chawrasia closed the day in tied 21st courtesy a 67 that took him to five-under-208 and Shiv Kapur shot a 68 to be tied 34th at four-under-209.
Source: Asian Tour

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