Gujarat Open Golf: M Dharma, Ranjit Singh and Kapil Kumar tied at the top

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The Gujarat Open Golf seems to be heading for a fascinating finish as round three saw a three-way tie for the lead between Bengaluru’s M Dharma, Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh and Kapil Kumar of Delhi, all placed at 10-under 206, at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens Golf Club, here on Thursday.

Karandeep Kochhar, another Chandigarh golfer and Delhi’s Arjun Prasad were two strokes adrift of the joint leaders in tied fourth place at the Rs. 40 lakh event. M Dharma (72-69-65) struck the day’s best score of seven-under 65 to gain 12 spots on the leaderboard. Dharma’s putter was on fire early on as he sank some long putts to pick up an eagle and five birdies on the first 10 holes.

Dharma, a two-time winner on the PGTI, then endured a tough stretch when he double-bogeyed the 13th after finding the hazard and missed a short birdie putt on the 14th. However, he regained his touch with birdies on the 15th and 17th.

“I’ve been extremely consistent from the back half of the previous season. Even though I suffered a ligament strain in my left thumb late last year, I continued to play well. Now that I have almost recovered from my injury, I’m looking to carry forward the momentum this year. As for the final round, I’ll just look to repeat what I did today,” said Dharma.

The seasoned Ranjit Singh (70-68-68), looking for his first title, moved up three places with his second successive 68 on Thursday. Ranjit had a quiet front-nine with a birdie and a bogey but made a move on the back-nine with five birdies and a bogey. He capped his round with an outstanding approach on the 18th that landed within a couple of feet of the flag.

Ranjit said, “My game picked up from the second half of the season last year after I changed my irons. I’ve shot good scores in all events since then. Today again my iron-play was terrific. The key in the final round would be to play well on the toughest stretch of the course which lies between the 12th and the 15th.”

Kapil Kumar (68-67-71), who was overnight second and two off the lead, kept himself in the hunt for his maiden title with a 71 riding on his good driving and putting form. Kapil’s three birdies included some quality chip-putts. He also dropped two bogeys.

“I was struggling for form last year. But I changed my putter before this event and that has led to my better performance on the greens. With my putting clicking, the focus will be on making maximum regulations in the final round in order to create scoring opportunities,” Kapil said.

Karandeep Kochhar (64-75-69), who returned a 75 in round two, came back into contention with a 69 on day three. Arjun Prasad (73-65-70) carded a 70 on Thursday to continue in tied fourth place at eight-under 208. Round two leader Tapy Ghai of Delhi shot a 76 to drop to tied sixth place at seven-under 209.

Among the Gujarat-based golfers, Anshul Patel (73-70-72) was the highest-placed as he occupied tied 18th at one-under 215. The other two local golfers Varun Parikh (one-over 217) and Shravan Desai (eight-over 224) were placed tied 23rd and tied 37th respectively.

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