Gurugram, 30-03-2024

Keita Nakajima of Japan extends lead to four shots, Veer Ahlawat is best-placed Indian in sixth on moving day of Hero Indian Open

Veer Ahlawat mixed five birdies with two dropped shots to hold station in sole sixth place on 12 under par 204, six strokes behind leader Keita Nakajima of Japan on Moving Day at the $2.25 million 57th Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

Ahlawat (69-66-69) made good use of his familiarity with the course and conditions to stay inside the top 10 for a second straight day on Saturday, capping his round with a closing birdie before a large gallery on his home track.

Veer played some excellent bunker shots making a terrific up and down for birdie on the 11th. He also made quality par-saves on the 13th and 14th. Another highlight of his round was his third shot from 100 yards out on the 18th that landed inches from the hole.

The newly-wedded Ahlawat said, “The highlight of the day for me was on the 18th in front of my home crowd. My wife, my mother-in-law, my father were also there. 

“This being my home course helps. I mean I know which side of the green to miss. If I miss it, which side should I miss it, so that I won't drop a shot. It was a solid round. I hit the ball well, my putting was good. My bunker play was also in shape today. I started a little slow but finished on a high note.

“Tomorrow, I am going to try to stay focused, try to go low.”

Fellow DLF golfer, Manu Gandas returned an incident-packed 2 under 70 for a share of 13th place on 8 under par 208 while Aman Raj was next best in tied 24th on 6 under par 210 with cards of 68, 68, and 74.

Added Gandas who had six birdies against four bogeys on Saturday, made as many as five birdie conversions from a range of 12 to 18 feet.

Manu said, “Today, I had some bad breaks along the way and some of the good putts that didn't fall in, but overall it was a decent round.

“Home advantage definitely helps. I think we should be able to capitalise on it, just stick with the game plan that we already have and see how it ends. I would say my hitting and putting has not been very good, but I've been able to manage.”

Earlier in the day the halfway cut had been declared at one-under 143 after the conclusion of round two which had been suspended last evening due to lightning. A total of eight Indians made the cut.

Besides Veer, Manu and Aman, the other Indians to make the cut were Karandeep Kochhar, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Rashid Khan, Jairaj Singh Sandhu and Shubhankar Sharma.

After round three Karandeeo Kochhar was tied 30th at five-under while Shubhankar Sharma was tied 35th at four-under.

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