Chikkarangappa storms into the third round lead with sublime 62 at TATA Steel Tour Championship 2022
Kapil Kumar and Khalin Joshi breathing down the leader’s neck; Manu Gandas well-placed for Order of Merit title
Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru stormed into the third round lead after firing a sublime 10-under 62, the week’s lowest score so far. Chikka’s total moved to 17-under 199 giving him a one-shot advantage at the Rs. 3 crore TATA Steel Tour Championship 2022, the TATA Steel PGTI’s season-ending event being played at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses in Jamshedpur.
Fourteen-time PGTI winner Chikka (66-71-62), who has been a runner-up on two previous occasions in Jamshedpur, once at the 17th TATA Open 2018 and then again at the TATA Steel Tour Championship 2020, 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.
TATA Steel PGTI Rankings leader 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 Singh 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 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.
Chikka, a two-time winner on the Asian development Tour (ADT) then made further in-roads on the back-nine claiming four birdies including two from 12 feet in exchange for a bogey.
Chikka said, “It was a dream round. Even though I've been playing well of late, I wasn't posting these deep rounds. 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. But Beldih is on the tighter side to score being a tree-lined track. Beldih is looking really good after the recent changes.
“I've always played well at these two courses so that gives me confidence heading into the final round. I've been driving the ball like a dream and I just need to continue doing that. However, holing the putts will also be crucial.”
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.
Among the prominent names, 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.
The first three rounds of the richest event on the PGTI saw one half of the field play their first nine holes at Golmuri Golf Course and second nine at Beldih Golf Course while the other half of the field played Beldih first followed by Golmuri. This format will also be followed for the fourth and last round of the tournament in Jamshedpur with the par for the round being 72. The leading groups will start at Golmuri and finish at Beldih.
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