S.S.P. Chawrasia pulled two shots clear from title holder Siddikur Rahman after shooting a third round two-under-par 69 at the Hero Indian Open on Saturday.
The popular Indian, who leads on 12-under-par 201, dropped his first shot in 52 holes on hole 17 but remains in prime position to win his third title at the Delhi Golf Club.
Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour winner, birdied the last hole for a 70 to give his title defence a lifeline at the US$1.5 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Australian Marcus Fraser carded a bogey-free 67 to sit in third place, five shots off the pace, while Daniel Chopra made a brilliant eagle three on the 18th hole for the day’s low round of 65 to share fourth place alongside Prayad Marksaeng (69) of Thailand.
Home favourite Anirban mounted a brief charge before dropping several shots on the back nine to settle for a 70 to tie for sixth place with Paul Peterson of the United States on a 208 total.
The 36-year-old Chawrasia got off to a flying start when he opened with two birdies. He gained another shot on 13 and was on track to be bogey-free for the third straight day before hitting a poor eight-iron tee shot on the penultimate hole.
“I played my own game and didn’t think that I’m playing in a match play with Siddikur. That’s my target. If anyone is coming closer, let them. I just want to focus on my own game. I’m trying to be calm but I’m feeling very frustrated inside!” said Chawrasia.
He enjoyed a stroke of luck to stay in the lead when his tee shot on the eighth hole, which was headed into the jungle, bounced off a tree branch onto the fairway. He also saved a crucial par on 16 from thick rough.
“My tee shot on 16 landed in the trees but it wasn’t as bad as it looked. I hit a low shot and I was able to save par. I want to think and play positive on the final day. The final round is always special so I will play aggressively,” said Chawrasia, who won his third Asian Tour title on this course in November.
Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour, double bogeyed the 15th hole from the trees but holed a close range birdie on 18 to stay in the hunt to win back-to-back Hero Indian Open titles.
“The birdie at the last was very important. Anything can happen in this game – I am looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully I can play the way I did on Thursday,” said the 30-year-old.
“I tried not to look too much at what SSP was doing today – I tried to focus on my own game and kept hitting the greens in regulation and try to make some birdie putts,” Siddikur explained.
Chopra, who was born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, pulled himself back into the tournament after taking a more aggressive approach.
“I played a lot more aggressively because I realised that if you play too safe at the DGC it tends to dominate you. I thought that with a bit of luck I might get away. So I am happy with the way the day turned out. Another round like today, you never know,” said the Swede, who won the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January.
Scores after round 3 of the Hero Indian Open 2015 being played at the par 71, 6923 Yards Delhi Golf Club course (am – denotes amateur):
201 – S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) 65-67-69.
203 – Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 65-68-70.
206 – Marcus FRASER (AUS) 69-70-67.
207 – Daniel CHOPRA (SWE) 70-72-65, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 68-70-69.
208 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 73-65-70, Paul PETERSON (USA) 69-68-71.
209 – Adilson DA SILVA (BRA) 71-70-68, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 67-72-70, Richard MCEVOY (ENG) 70-67-72, Joakim LAGERGREN (SWE) 65-71-73.
210 – Ben EVANS (ENG) 72-70-68, Jason PALMER (ENG) 70-71-69, Adrian OTAEGUI (ESP) 70-70-70, Peter LAWRIE (IRL) 69-70-71.
211 – Romain WATTEL (FRA) 70-74-67, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 73-70-68, Kalem RICHARDSON (AUS) 67-74-70, Jake ROOS (RSA) 70-69-72, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 65-71-75.
212 – Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 72-72-68, Kieran PRATT (AUS) 75-69-68, S. CHIKKARANGAPPA (IND) 69-75-68, Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) 72-72-68, Chris LLOYD (ENG)