Randhawa leads by a shot in McLeod Russel golf

Kolkata, Dec 26 (IANS) Veteran Jyoti Randhawa battled stomach cramps in Round 3 to shoot a one-under-71 that kept him in the lead by one shot at the Rs.1.5 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) here on Saturday.

The Gurgaon-based professional took his three-day tally to 12-under-204 as Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi fired the day’s joint best score of four-under-68 to lurk behind the leader in second place at 11-under-205.

Randhawa (68-65-71), the overnight leader by four shots, felt the effects of an upset stomach through the third day but still managed to deliver a resolute 71 to continue in the lead.

He was quick off the block, picking up birdies on the first, second and fourth, landing it within five feet on the first two occasions, to build a comfortable five-stroke lead. Though Randhawa dropped a stroke after missing a six-footer on the ninth, he came roaring back with a 20-feet birdie on the 10th.

Randhawa missed the greens on 12 and 13 for consecutive bogeys as his lead was cut down to three strokes. It was on the 14th tee that the 43-year-old considered withdrawing from the tournament due to pain and discomfort caused by the cramps.

However, cheered on by the big crowd, he decided to carry on. Randhawa was solid thereafter, making pars all the way till the finish.

“It was a tough and draining day due to my physical condition. However, I’m glad to have hung in there to stay in front. I look forward to coming back strong on the final day,” said Randhawa.

Joshi (70-67-68), who was overnight joint second, had a birdie and a bogey on the front-nine but made his move on the back nine with an eagle and two birdies.

He made a 15-feet birdie conversion on the 12th hole and then drove the par-4 16th green, following it up with a 25-feet putt for eagle there. He finally had a birdie chip-in on the 17th which helped him end the day within one shot of the lead.

“The 12th was the turning point as I started swinging better from there on. I was far better on the back nine in all aspects of the game,” said Joshi.

“I was also very relaxed playing alongside my good friend Chikka. I play a lot of practice rounds with him back home in Bengaluru. I’m in a decent position now, just one shot off the lead and will look to raise the tempo in the final round.”

Chikkarangappa, who was joint second after Round 2, slipped to third at nine-under-207 after his 70 on Saturday. Chikka, second in the Order of Merit, is still the strongest contender for the Rolex Ranking title as money list leader Mukesh Kumar of Mhow is currently placed tied 15th at one-under-215.

Defending champion Shankar Das (70) of Kolkata is fourth at seven-under-209. The Kolkata duo of 2012 champion S.S.P. Chawrasia (68) and Rahil Gangjee (72) are a further shot back in tied fifth.

Kapurthala’s Gaganjeet Bhullar moved up to seventh at five-under-211 thanks to his third round effort of 68.

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