Scotland’s Richie Ramsay struggled with his cold putter but held on to the lead he has had since day one to move to 11-under at the end of third round of the Hero Indian Open golf tournament at the KGA course, here Saturday.
Ramsay posted a one-under-par 70 for a three-round total of 11-under-par 202 to hold a narrow one-shot lead over Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate Jaakko Makitalo of Finland.
Makitalo, playing one flight in front of Ramsay, charged into contention for a first Asian Tour win as he returned with a 68 at the approximately US$1.25 million event.
Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant (67), winner of the 2005 Hero Indian Open and 19-year-old Panuphol Pittayarat (69) were a further shot back with James Morrison (67) of England on a day that saw good sized crowds despite intermittent drizzle.
With the top eight within three shots of each other, Ramsay will be pushed hard on the final day. There are another seven players who are within five off the lead.
The top Indian was Shiv Kapur (67) who brought himself back into spotlight with a round that had four birdies and one bogey. At seven-under he is the top Indian and four off the lead.
However, there were as many five other Indians who were just one behind Kapur and five shots behind Ramsay.
That bunch included three-time Indian Open winner Jyoti Randhawa, who admitted he finally felt comfortable at this Indian Open, home boys Anirban Lahiri, who had the day’s best card of 66 and amateur S Chikkrangappa, last year’s runner-up Chiragh Kumar and Gaganjeet Bhullar, the man who has won two Asian Tour titles in last one month.
Ramsay, who is playing on sponsor’s invitation, said: “I actually played nice. I found it tough to play with the wind blowing all over the place. I needed to make some putts which I didn’t. It was a case of being close but not close enough today.”
“It is surprising to be leading in a tournament with the way I putted. If I can putt better, then I think there’s a better score out there.”
Kapur led the local charge with a round of 68 as he lies in ninth position on 206 but it was local boy Lahiri who made the biggest move on the leaderboard with a 66 highlighted by two chip-ins on holes seven (25 feet) and nine (15 feet).
Kapur said: “It was nice to finish with a birdie for every shot counts. And at seven-under I could have an outside chance as I am only four back. I was once again good from tee to green, but didn’t hole many putts and that’s been the story of the week.”
Lahiri said: “Every par I made at the back felt like a birdie because I felt like I could make anything. I think I’m still in a great spot because I have nothing to lose. I can just go out there tomorrow and shoot my lights out. I got everything to play for.”
Makitalo eagled the par five 11th hole for the second successive day after hitting his hybrid to four feet from the hole. He could have shared the lead if not for a bogey on the last.
Panuphol’s patience was rewarded with four birdies against two bogeys and admits that his performance this week has surpassed his expectations.
The 45-year-old Thaworn Wiratchant, who holds the record of 14 Asian Tour titles, posted a flawless round highlighted by four birdies and is aiming to win the Hero Indian Open for the second time in his career.