Cochin Masters: Dharma sitting pretty

M. Dharma produced just enough to stay on top but with Lucknow’s Sanjay Kumar producing three birdies by the seventh, the race appeared to be getting hot on the penultimate day.

Lucknow's Sanjay Kumar jumped from the tied ninth rung to joint second spot the after producing the day's best score in the CIAL Cochin Masters   -  Special Arrangement

For a brief while, it looked like Bengaluru’s M. Dharma would be in trouble in the CIAL Cochin Masters, the PGTI season-opener, at Nedumbassery on Friday.

The 29-year-old, the joint leader overnight with the Kolkata’s seasoned Feroz Ali Mollah after an impressive second day, had a birdie and two bogeys after the front nine at the CIAL Golf Club.

With Lucknow’s Sanjay Kumar producing three birdies by the seventh, the race appeared to be getting hot on the penultimate day.

But the 29-year-old Dharma, a former PGTI winner, steadied himself on the back nine. Two birdies showed up, in the 11th and 16th, and the Bengaluru player was back on top with a one-under-71 which offered him the sole two-shot lead over his nearest challenger.

“I decided to just hang in there after my first bogey on the sixth. I was delighted to have hit all greens on the back-nine despite the wind picking up on that stretch. The birdie on the 16th was crucial as it gave me a decent lead,” said Dharma.

“As scoring has been easy this week, I think any under par score will be good enough tomorrow. Of course, the pressure will be there on the final day but I have to just stick to my game.”

Sanjay, who shot the day’s best of four-under-68, made a big jump from his overnight ninth spot and was tied for the second rung with Feroz Ali Mollah at five-under-211.

Mhow’s Om Prakash Chouhan was fourth while the next spot was shared between Delhi’s Vikrant Chopra, Meerut’s Sudhir Sharma and Jaipur’s Vishal Singh.

The scores (after round three): 209: M. Dharma (72-66-71). 211: Sanjay Kumar (73-70-68) & Feroz Ali Mollah (70-68-73). 212: Om Prakash Chouhan (68-73-71). 213: Vikrant Chopra (72-72-69), Sudhir Sharma (70-73-70) & Vishal Singh (76-65-72).