McLeod Russel Tour Championship: Rashid hits third straight 67 to clear up a two-point lead

Continuing his fine run, Delhi's Rashid Khan recorded a straight third five-under-67 to extend a two-stroke lead after the third round of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship.

Rashid Khan reading the line of his putt on the third day of McLeod Russel Tour Championship at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Saturday.   -  Special Arrangement

Rashid Khan of Delhi worked out a fine essay of consistency as he carded a straight third five-under-67 to extend a two-stroke lead after the third round of PGTI McLeod Russel Tour Championship here at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Saturday.

This will set up an interesting clash in the final round as the first day’s leader Shubhankar Sharma closed in with an error-free five-under-67 to set up the challenge.

The 26-year-old Rashid, who is a two-time Asian Tour winner, took his score to 15-under-201 as a result of the third straight 67. Shubhankar, the 21-year-old golfer from Chandigarh who recently notched up a European Tour triumph, overcame the glitches of the second round and improved his position to second place with a tally of 13-under-203. He is going to be the most serious challenger to Rashid as the rest of the field is another five shots behind.

Day 2 report: Consistent Rashid gains lead

The day’s best came from Shamim Khan of Delhi, the current PGTI Order of Merit leader, who carded a score of 66 to climb 11 spots and remain tied at the fifth place with seven-under-209. This also improved Shamim’s chances of winning his second PGTI Order of Merit crown as his nearest rivals on the money list, Ahmedabad’s Udayan Mane and Sri Lankan Anura Rohana, are placed 10 and seven shots behind him respectively.

Enjoying a stroke’s lead as the overnight leader, Rashid (67-67-67) made another confident start as he sank three birdies on the first five holes. He stumbled in the middle with consecutive bogeys on the sixth and seventh but rallied with a fabulous back-nine that featured four birdies. He had a lucky break on the 15th where his second shot was heading out of bounds but bounced on the cart path and landed behind the bunker, enabling him to make an up and down for birdie. He also closed the round in style with his third 15-footer birdie of the day.

After losing some ground playing a sedate second round, Shubhankar (66-70-67) came back strongly in the third round as he had a 12-feet eagle putt on the 15th which he missed narrowly. He ended the round in style with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.

Local favourite SSP Chawrasia (72) was tied 10th at five-under-211.

The scores (after third round): 1. Rashid Khan (67, 67, 67) 201, 2. Shubhankar Sharma (66, 70, 67) 203, 3. Veer Ahlawat  (71, 69, 68)  208, 4. Rahil Gangjee (67, 68, 73) 208, 5. Shamim Khan (70, 73, 66) 209, 6. Ajeetesh Sandhu  (72, 68, 69) 209, 7. Aman Raj (69, 70, 70) 209, 8. Manu Gandas (71, 72, 67) 210, 9. Sachin Baisoya (69, 72, 69) 210, 10. Khalin Joshi (71, 69, 71) 211, 11. S.S.P. Chawrasia (71, 68, 72) 211.