Panchkula, Haryana, 27-10-2023
Akshay Sharma shoots week’s lowest 65 for two-stroke lead on penultimate day
Jairaj Singh Sandhu occupies second place to stay in the hunt
Tricity golfers dominated day three as Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma shot the week’s lowest score of seven-under 65 to take a two-stroke lead at a total of 15-under 201 while Jairaj Singh Sandhu (68), another Chandigarh-based professional, occupied second place, at the INR 1 crore Haryana Open 2023 presented by Wonder Cement being played at the Panchkula Golf Club.
The DLF Golf & Country Club duo of Honey Baisoya (66) and Abhinav Lohan (69) were also contenders heading into round four as they sat in joint third position at 12-under 204.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu in sixth place at 10-under 206 and Angad Cheema in tied 10th at eight-under 208 were the other two Chandigarh players in the top-10.
TATA Steel PGTI Ranking leader Om Prakash Chouhan (71) was tied 10th too.
Akshay Sharma (68-68-65), who won the last of his two titles at Panchkula Golf Club back in 2020, used the good memories from that win to his advantage on Friday. The 33-year-old Akshay made a slow start with three pars and a bogey on his first four holes before picking up the pace with three birdies. His second bogey of the day on the ninth was his last error.
Sharma, currently eighth on the PGTI’s money list with two runner-up finishes in the last three events, was on fire on the back-nine as he picked up six birdies to move into the sole lead. On day three Akshay made six conversions from a range of 10 to 25 feet.
Akshay, who moved up two spots from his overnight third place, said, “I wasn’t happy with my short-game yesterday but today it was my chipping and putting that stood out. I made 24 putts in all. Besides the long-range putts including two from the fringe, I also landed a few chips very close to the pin.
“My current form and consistency, familiarity with this course as I play here often and memories from my win here, give me loads of confidence going into the final round. Clarity of mind and keeping things simple will be most important for me in the last round.”
Twenty-six-year-old left-hander Jairaj Singh Sandhu (66-69-68), the joint halfway leader, made a brilliant start with a 30-feet birdie conversion on the second and an eagle-two on the third where he holed it from 40 yards. Jairaj, looking for his maiden title, added another birdie on the ninth but then had a contrasting back-nine with three birdies and three bogeys.
Jairaj, currently 44th on the PGTI’s merit list, with one top-10 to his credit this season, said, “I dropped just two bogeys over the first two days and today I dropped three. That was the difference. Too many errors in round three. I’ll now look to play the final round the way I played rounds one and two.”
Kolkata’s Shankar Das made a hole-in-one on the second hole during his round of 71. He was placed tied 30th at three-under 213.
Umed Kumar was higher-placed among the two amateurs who made the cut. He was tied 47th at two-over 218.
Round 3 Leaderboard:
201: Akshay Sharma (68-68-65)
203: Jairaj Singh Sandhu (66-69-68)
204: Honey Baisoya (68-70-66); Abhinav Lohan (67-68-69)
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