New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) Rashid Khan on Saturday battled the wet conditions, a rain-induced break and an opening double bogey but still managed to open a solid three-shot lead going into the final day of The DGC Open here.
Rashid (68), who was three shots behind the overnight leader S Chikkarangappa (74) after the second round, shot his third straight under-par round as he makes a bid for his third Asian Tour win. His last win at the continental tour came in 2014 while he was runner-up twice last year.
Rashid led the field at 11-under, while Chikkarangappa (74), who could not get his putter going on the wet greens, dropped to second at 8-under.
Honey Baisoya (65) made a bid for his maiden Asian Tour win by getting to tied third at 6-under 210, alongside fellow Indian Om Prakash Chouhan (73) and Thai Chapchai Nirat (71) at 6-under 210.
Rashid, who was part of the Indian team that won a silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, turned pro the same year but won his first pro title in 2014 at the SAIL-SBI Open. The same year, he won again at the Chiangmai Golf Classic.
“These kind of rounds give a lot of confidence. When I shot a bogey free round on day one, I was happy and today after the double on the first hole, you know after that when you come back this strong it gives you a lot of momentum,” Rashid said.
Chikka was stoic and took away positives despite not holing any birdies.
He said, “I wouldn’t say it was a bad day. I hit the ball good, I putted well. Just that I lost a little bit of speed on the green with probably the weather and just a little bit of rain kind of slowed down the green so I was struggling a little bit on the speed. But otherwise, I’ve been hitting it good, just need to trust it.” Since 2014, Rashid has finished second or tied second four times. Last year, he was tied second at the Mandiri Indonesia Open won by Gaganjeet Bhullar, which is the last Indian win on the Asian Tour. Rashid also lost a play-off to Taiwan’s Chan Shih-chang in 2022.
Though Rashid opened a handy lead, the third day’s star was Baisoya (65) who had a bogey free 7-under 65 as he made a giant leap from tied 49 overnight to tied third on the traditional moving day.
Last month, Baisoya was second after the first round and was still in Top-10 after three rounds before finishing Tied-20th. Baisoya’s best Asian Tour finish was fifth at the Panasonic Open India in 2016.
“I just changed my mindset today. I told my caddie that we will make every par, and we’ll not make bogeys today. In fact, that was my plan for the last two rounds. I started with a birdie and after 5 holes, I was 3 under,” Baisoya said.
“I was hitting it good and I was putting it really well. The pins were not easier. The wind was changing and it was swirling a lot so it was difficult to judge where to hit and where to aim.” While the Top-5 had four Indians, two Filipinos, Miguel Tabuena (72) and Justin Quiban (73), and Englishman Matt Killen (74) were tied sixth at 5-under on a day when there were 14 under par scores.
Only two players, Rashid and Chapchai, from the Top-8 players on the leaderboard have won before on the Asian Tour.
After two bright and warm days, it was wet and chilly too on the third day, which also witnessed a 45-minute suspension due to the threat of lightning and the round finished in light rain.
While Rashid had six birdies against one double bogey, Chikka had two bogeys and no birdies. Honey Baisoya had seven birdies and no bogeys.
Rashid birdied 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th and 14th. Baisoya birdied 1st, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, and 18th.
Indians had a strong presence on the leaderboard with four of them in Top-5 and eight in Top-20. Two of India’s major stars, Gaganjeet Bhullar (68), who has 10 Asian Tour wins, and SSP Chawrasia (71), who has six wins, were tied 12th.
Yashas Chandra (70) and Karandeep Kochhar (74), who had just one par on the back nine besides three birdies, three bogeys and two double bogeys, were tied 18th.
Source: PTI News