DGC Open: Thippong breezes past struggling Indians on windy day

Front-running Indians struggled to find their feet on a wind-swept Delhi Golf Club course but Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong dealt better with his inconsistency to enjoy a two-shot lead going into the final round of the $500,000 DGC Open golf tournament here on Saturday.

With only 11 out of 67 players breaking par, Thippong’s two-under 70 was enough to keep him ahead for the better part of the day.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Front-running Indians struggled to find their feet on a wind-swept Delhi Golf Club course but Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong dealt better with his inconsistency to enjoy a two-shot lead going into the final round of the $500,000 DGC Open golf tournament here on Saturday.

With only 11 out of 67 players breaking par, Thippong’s two-under 70 was enough to keep him ahead for the better part of the day. Overnight leader Veer Ahlawat dropped to the tied-fifth place following a 78, Ajeetesh Sandhu retained his second spot with a 73. Thailand’s Settee Prakongvech matched Thippong’s 70 to move to the third spot.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, M. Dharma (73 each), first-round joint leader Shankar Das (74) and Saturday’s temporary leader Manu Gandas (75) kept alive chances of another Indian winning his maiden dollar-event at home.

Credit to Thippong for not getting intimidated by the presence of a large number of Indians in the top-10 bracket. Playing in the leading group, Thippong birdied the second hole and watched Ahlawat and Sandhu drop two strokes each before the fourth hole.

At this stage, Thippong moved into the joint lead with Ahlawat and Gandas, who eagled the first and birdied the fourth to be at 7-under.

Thithipon found himself in the lead at 8-under following a birdie on the eighth hole after Gandas, playing two groups ahead, double-bogeyed the ninth hole to slip to 6-under.

Thereafter, if Thippong’s lead stretched to three strokes, it was mainly because his nearest rivals dropped strokes. At one stage, Sandhu’s eagle on the 14th sliced Thippong’s lead to just one stroke before he doubled it with a 17th-hole birdie.

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“Today, I didn’t hit so many greens, but I got a lot of great up and downs. I think I made almost every up and down. I was a bit nervous but just tried to have fun. I know I’m in the lead right now, but I will just try to focus on my process,” said the 25-year-old Thai.

Sandhu reflected on his play by saying, “A difficult day. The wind was off, the course was firm. It was a very good test out there today.

Talking about his eagle on the 14th, Sandhu said, “ probably the best I played. Hit a really good drive and then I hit a 5-iron to 15 feet and then one of the only putts that I made today. So, that was good."

About being two strokes behind the leader, Sandhu said, “Two shots in this course doesn't mean anything. One swing and you can turn it around. So you have to be patient. You have to keep on playing your own game. Need to do some practice to get ready for tomorrow.

The scores (Indians unless stated):

Third round: 208 - Nitithorn Thippong (Tha) (68, 70, 70); 210 - Ajeetesh Sandhu (69, 68, 73); 211 - Settee Prakongvech (Tha) (71, 70, 70); 212 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (73, 66, 73); 213 - M. Dharma (71, 69, 73), Veer Ahlawat (68, 67, 78) 214 - Bjorn Hellgren (Swe) (71, 70, 73); 215 - Sachin Baisoya (71, 75, 69), Justin Quiban (Phi) (74, 72, 69), Shankar Das (67, 74, 74) and Manu Gandas (71, 69, 75).

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