Harpal Singh Bedi / Noida
Panchkula’s Angad Cheema shot a three-under-69 in the third round that gave him a two-shot lead at six-under-210 in the QA InfoTech Open at the Noida Golf Course on Thursday .
Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma was placed second at four-under-212 after he too carded a 69 on day three of the Rs. 50 lakh event.
Veteran Jeev Milkha Singh closed the day in tied 21st with a total of two-over-218. He returned a one-over-73 in round three.
Angad Cheema (71-70-69), one of only two players to shoot under-par scores in all three rounds of the tournament so far, made his way from overnight tied third to the top of the leaderboard on Thursday. With his 69, Cheema put behind the disappointment of an ordinary finish in round two where he dropped two bogeys on the last four holes.
The 28-year-old Angad, who won on the PGTI in his rookie season in 2013 and as a result finished a creditable third on the PGTI Order of Merit that year, mixed five birdies with two bogeys in the third round.
Cheema sank two long birdie putts on the second and seventh before dropping a bogey on the eighth.
The tall and lanky golfer, who had an Asian Tour card in 2015, had a comparatively better back-nine leaving himself two four-footers on the 11thand 12thand a tap-in on the 14th, all of which he converted into birdies.
Angad, looking to revive a season where he hasn’t posted any top-10, recovered well for a bogey on the 13th and drained an important 25-feet par putt on the 15th.
Cheema, currently placed 39th in the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “I’ve played well on all three days and kept myself out of trouble. My ball-striking has been great and putting has been consistent in the last two days. That par save from 25 feet on the 15th today really lifted my confidence.
“I was the halfway leader by four shots in Hyderabad earlier this year but couldn’t take advantage of that and finally finished outside the top-20. I feel I can now turn the tide this week,” added Angad, whose last top-10 finish came at the Pune Open 2017 where he was joint runner-up.
Akshay Sharma (73-70-69) climbed up seven places to second position thanks to his 69 on Thursday. Akshay, the man with four top-10s this year, produced four birdies and a bogey and 15 greens in regulation in the third round to move into contention.
Akshay, placed 26th in the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “I’m carrying the good form from last week’s event in Jaipur where I had a five-under on the final day. I’ve been in good rhythm since the latter half of last year but have not fully capitalized on the opportunities that have come my way. I’d like to change that this week.”
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh fired a third straight 71 to become only the second player other than the leader Cheema to register three under-par scores in the tournament. Gaurav thus moved up two spots into tied third at three-under-213.
Second round leaders Arjun Prasad of Delhi and Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka dropped to tied third as both shot scores of 73 on Thursday.