Yuvraj Singh Sandhu ruled the roost with a phenomenal nine-under 61, the week’s best score so far, to move into a three-shot lead after round three of the 2022 TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship, here on Thursday.
The Chandigarh-based Sandhu (67-65-61), who was sixth on the PGTI merit list last year after an outstanding season that featured his maiden win and 11 other top-10s, went error-free at Tollygunge Club to climb from overnight tied fourth into pole position.
The 25-year-old was one short of Kolkata golfer Indrajit Bhalotia’s course record of 60 set by the latter at the Warren Open in 1998.
Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa (64-70-62), playing at his home course, shot an equally impressive 62 which featured an eagle-two on the 15th to rise nine spots to tied second at 14-under 196. Shamim Khan (66-65-65) and Ajeetesh Sandhu (63-68-65) signed cards of 65 to continue in tied second place for the second day in succession.
Round two leader Rahil Gangjee returned a 67 to end the third day in fifth place at 13-under 197. Honey Baisoya also fired a 62 to zoom 23 spots to seventh position at 10-under 200.
Sri Lanka’s Vijitha Bandara fired a hole-in-one on the eighth during his round of 70 to be placed tied 10th at eight-under 202. Kolkata’s SSP Chawrasia (66) too occupied tied 10th place.
Meanwhile, Indian golf legend Jeev Milkha Singh struck a 71 to be tied 16th at six-under 204.
Sandhu found himself in a spot of bother in the hazard on the third. However, he managed to execute a perfect high fade wedge shot from there, about 130 yards out, that landed within 10 feet of the hole and resulted in his first birdie of the day and some early momentum.
Sandhu picked up his fourth birdie of the day on the eighth with a 40-feet conversion from a tough position on the green which gave his round another boost. He then went on to add five more birdies including a tap-in on the 14th where he almost holed out his approach shot. He also made an exceptional par-save with an up and down on the 16th after being unsettled by the wind.
Yuvraj, who took a break from the tour last week to address some issues with his clubs, said, “The miraculous shot that set up a great recovery and birdie on the third was the kind of moment that told me that it could be a green light day for me so I just need to push ahead. I kept the errors out today as I didn’t go for every flag. I respected the flags where it was necessary to do so.
“When I saw the leaderboard and realized that I was leading, I knew I had been in such a position before so all I needed to do was just have fun and try to extend my lead. I could’ve dropped a few shots but the putter came to my rescue on those occasions. It’s now about taking it one shot at a time in the final round,” he added.
Viraj Madappa, who had two early bogeys, fought back with an eagle and eight birdies from the fifth onwards. Madappa had an eagle-two on the par-4 15th where he drove the green and sank an 18-footer. Viraj also landed it within three feet on five occasions.
Madappa, an Asian Tour winner, said, “After a bad finish with a late triple-bogey in round two, I knew I had to shoot low to stay in the mix. I looked to score on the front-nine today as I was aware that the greens on the back-nine are more gettable. I landed it in good spots and played my wedges well into the greens.”
“It was good fun with so many kids following me today. They were quite loud and often came and had a word with me. I’m expecting the same kind of support in the final round,” he added.