Kshitij ahead, but just as Angad and Ankur close in

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Kshitij Naveed Kaul managed to keep his nose ahead as he fired three birdies and a bogey that took his total to 12-under 204.
Kshitij Naveed Kaul managed to keep his nose ahead as he fired three birdies and a bogey that took his total to 12-under 204.

There was daylight between the top three – Kshitij Naveed Kaul, Angad Cheema and Ankur Chadha – and the rest of the field at the end of Round Three of the ICC RCGC Open at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.

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Kshitij (69-65-70) carried a slender one-shot lead into the final round following his dogged two-under 70. The 20-year-old, the halfway leader by two shots, managed to keep his nose ahead as he fired three birdies and a bogey that took his total to 12-under 204.

 

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Angad (68-68-69), lying overnight second, narrowed the gap between himself and the leader to just one shot after his round of 69 that featured four birdies and a bogey.

Ankur (68-69-69), who was third at the halfway stage, too carded a 69 punctuated by five birdies and two bogeys, to keep himself in the fray.

While Kshitij and Angad are in search of their second title, Ankur will look to take a shot at his maiden title.

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It was a slow and steady start for Kshitij as he made par all the way till the 12th. He dropped a bogey on the 13th as a result of an error in club selection but came fighting back with birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th, thanks to his precision with approach shots.

Kshitij, who won on the PGTI in 2019, said, “I played very disciplined golf and stuck to my game-plan. I just hit it closer on the back-nine which helped me pick up those birdies. I made some great par saves on the seventh and 18th where I had some awkward chip shots but managed to land it within five feet on both occasions.

“Having Vicky (Shubhankar Sharma’s former caddie) on the bag over the last four events has also helped. Our thinking is very similar as we both are very aggressive and such matching thoughts is always an added advantage.”

 

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Angad, like Kshitij, was also slow off the blocks on Saturday. He three-putted for a bogey on the sixth before picking up his first birdie of the day on the 10th. He then kept pace with the leader by adding three more birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th draining some clutch putts from a range of eight to nine feet.

Angad, who won his only title in his rookie season in 2013, said, “I was quite solid even though I wasn’t hitting it close enough to set up birdie opportunities. But I made pars and kept myself in it. The 10-feet birdie conversion on the 10th really got me going. The birdie on the 16th was also key as Kshitij was much closer to the flag than I was. At this course, you have to be on top of your game to score well and that’s what I’ll look to do in the final round.”

 

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Ankur was one-over through the front-nine but thereafter rallied with four birdies on the back-nine to stay in contention for the title.

Sunit Chowrasia (71) was the highest-placed Kolkata golfer in tied fourth at six-under 210. Last week’s winner Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (72) joined Sunit in tied fourth.

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