All four of India’s golfers shot over-par in the third round of the men’s competition at the Asian Games here. Rayhan Thomas (73), Aadil Bedi (74), Kshitij Naveed Kaul (76) and Hari Mohan Singh (77) were left fighting on the back nine to make up for lost ground.
India, which had tallied 12-under from three best cards to be placed second after the first two days, slipped to tied-fifth with a total of seven-over from the three best cards on Saturday. India now only has an outside chance to clinch a medal in the team event.
In the overall standings, the consistent Keita Nakajima followed up his 68-68 with 70, and his colleagues Daiki Imano (69) and Takumi Kanaya (73) ensured there wasn’t any dramatic slip as Japan moved five shots ahead of second-placed South Korea, which was 17-under.
China, on the strength of Yuan Yehchun (65), Chen Jing (65) and Chen Yilong (68), has moved from +2 to -14 is placed third. Ironically, Andy Zhang, the country’s best-placed golfer, has managed only 72-73-73.
Individual medals more likely
India has better chances of gaining medals in the individual category; Thomas and Bedi are only four shots behind second-placed Sadom Kaewkanjana of Thailand and Oh Seungtaek. In the standings, India’s Thomas dropped from tied fifth to tied 10th and is now three-under 213, while Bedi, tied-third overnight, also slipped to tied-10th. Kshitij is now one-over 217 and is tied-21st. Nakajima, the reigning Australian Amateur champion, who is expected to turn pro any time, maintained his pole position with a steady card of two-under 70 that repaired his round with three birdies in the last five holes.
Nakajima opened a three-shot lead over China’s Cheng Jin, who after winning the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships played the Masters the following year. Tenth tee starter Cheng, after modest 70-72 on first two days, had seven birdies and a double in his 67, and rose from tied 13th to joint second spot with South Korea’s Oh Seung Teak (67) with a total of seven-under.
Seven-under 65 for Yechun
However, the low card of the day came from Yuan Yechun, who shot seven-under 65 after 72-72 on first two days when he was tied 40. Starting from 10th tee, his third round had eight birdies, including three from 16th to 18th, and he rose to tied 10th.
Thomas and Bedi said the hitting was fine but they let go of too many opportunities in the greens and missed a lot of 5-7 footers for birdies and pars. “That’s golf, you hole out from the fairway and then miss four footers,” said Thomas with a wry smile.
In the women’s section, India’s trio had another disappointing day. Ridhima Dilawari shot a second successive round of even-par 72 to finish with a total of five-over 221 with rounds of 77-72-72 and was tied 20th. Sifat Sagoo, the youngest in the squad, carded 75 in the final round for 222 after rounds of 75-72-75 and is tied 23rd, while Diksha Dagar was tied 26th after finishing with 74 for a total of 226.
They have another day to improve their scores and the ninth position in the team standings.
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