Hero Indian Open: Pigem, Pepperell join Chawrasia in the lead

15 Indians make the ‘cut’ on the testing DLF Golf and Country Club course.

Spain’s Carlos Pigem in action at the Hero Indian Open.   -  Special Arrangement

S.S.P. Chawrasia said he stuck to his game-plan he had for the first two rounds.   -  Special Arrangement

With 25 holes to go for the three leaders – defending champion S. S. P. Chawrasia, Carlos Pigem and Eddie Pepperell – the final day of USD 1.75 million Hero Indian Open promises a serious battle of attrition leading to the finale on Sunday.

The third day’s action saw the golfers giving a better account of their skills on the testing DLF Golf and Country Club course here. Overall, only 15 players from the reduced field of 69 could ensure sub-par efforts. Out of these 15, only USA’s Peter Uihlein could complete his round. In all, 42 players will be required to finish their third round on Sunday.

Chawrasia continued to take a shot at a time and his percentage play has proved very effective so far. He did drop a shot on the second hole – only his third bogey – to trail briefly but birdies on the fourth and ninth holes ensured that he never trailed again. During this run, at one point, there were five leaders at five-under.

Reflecting on his round, Chawrasia said, “I stuck to the same game plan that I have had for the first two rounds. I just want to hit straight, keep the ball in play and keep giving myself chances all the time. I am happy that I managed to do that, despite the bogey (on the second hole).”

He was particularly happy with his putt on the sixth hole. “I had a long par putt and I holed it after coming out of the bunker. Birdies are so difficult to find on this course and they require a lot of hard work, so to give away a bogey is painful.”

Pigem poised for sole lead

Pigem, the Spanish contender, started the day at two-under but soon made his presence felt with birdies on the first two holes. Though he dropped a shot on the sixth, he birdied the next two holes and added another one late in the day on the 11th to join the leaders. In fact, on the 12th hole, Pigem is poised for a birdie to take the sole lead when the play resumes.

“I’m really happy about my round. I started strong with two birdies. I made one mistake with a bogey, then got another few more birdies,” said Pigem.

Pepperell, the Englishman in the leaders’ group with Chawrasia and Danny Chia, parred the first five holes, bogeyed the sixth and then birdied the eighth and the ninth to catch up with the Indian. Talking about the course, Pepperell said, “Even on a flat, calm day this course is tough. The greens are firm, the pin positions are tricky. The greens are like something you would find at Disneyland. It’s difficult. The fairways are tight, there’s no let-up. You need to hit good shot after good shot.”

Earlier, the ‘cut’ came at six-over 150 and left 15 Indians in the fray. Apart form Chawrasia, others gaining the right to play over the weekend were, Jyoti Randhawa (145), Digvijay Singh (147), Chiragh Kumar, S. Chikkarangappa, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Shamim Khan, Shubhankar Sharma, amateur Rigel Fernandes (148), Anirban Lahiri, Abhijit Chadha, Rashid Khan (149), Ajeetesh Sandhu, Deepinder Singh Kullar and Arjun Atwal (150).