India Masters: Chikkarangappa, Shubhankar share lead

The pair signed for a total of 19-under-197 at the Eagleton Golf Resort here on Friday, setting up a potentially absorbing finale.

Shubhankar Sharma sank six birdies in all, including a pair on 17 and 18.   -  The Hindu

S. Chikkarangappa shot a six-under 66 to go join Shubhankar Sharma at the top of the leaderboard.   -  The Hindu

S. Chikkarangappa and Shubhankar Sharma battled all day for the lead before walking back tied for top spot at the end of the third round at the Take Solutions India Masters. The pair signed for a total of 19-under-197 at the Eagleton Golf Resort here on Friday, setting up a potentially absorbing finale.

Himmat Rai was three shots adrift in third, with Australia’s Jake Stirling, who played the day’s best round of eight-under-64, one stroke further behind.

A good round for Chikkarangappa

Chikkarangappa already has something of a reputation for final-day surges; he will be brimming with confidence again on what is his home course. The 22-year-old began the third morning of this Asian Development Tour and PGTI event two shots behind the overnight leader, Shubhankar. That deficit had stretched to four after two holes but he quickly regained ground, eventually finishing with a card of six-under-66, seven birdies and a bogey en route.

Chikkarangappa would have moved clear of his closest rivals were it not for near-misses on the green; thrice he putted for eagle from inside 30 feet and thrice he fell just short.

“I’ve been doing that since day one,” he said, afterwards. “I have had seven or eight opportunities for eagle over these three days and I haven’t holed even one yet. I guess they’re all waiting for the last day to go in.”

Shubhankar rallies

Shubhankar, who early last year at 17 became the youngest winner on the PGTI tour, shot a resolute four-under-64. Although the joy of making birdies on the first two holes had been offset by bogeys on four and six, he hung on. Shubhankar sank six birdies in all, including a pair on 17 and 18.

“Four shouldn’t have been a bogey and five should have been a birdie. I hit the centre of the fairway both times,” he said. “Four, five and six broke my momentum, but I’m happy with how I fought back.”

The scores (top 10 after 54 holes): 197: S. Chikkarangappa (65, 66, 66), Shubhankar Sharma (65, 64, 68); 200: Himmat Rai (64, 67, 69); 201: Jake Sterling (70, 67, 64); 202: Teemu Putkonen (68, 69, 65), Aditya Bhandarkar (69, 67, 66); 203: Casey O’Toole (68, 69, 66), Rashid Khan (65, 70, 68), Naman Dawar (66, 69, 68), Greg Moss (62, 70, 71).

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