Shankar Das surges ahead with timely 65

Kolkata, Dec 27 (IANS) Shankar Das fired a timely seven-under 65 to surge ahead in round three of the Rs.1.5 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship at the par-72 Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) Saturday.

Kolkata’s Das’ three-day total now stands at 13-under 203 and he enjoys a two-shot lead over his nearest rival Rashid Khan of Delhi, who collected 71 in the third round. Delhi’s Shamim Khan lies third at 10-under 206.

Das’ third round effort, the day’s joint best score made him a strong contender in the Rolex Rankings race besides Rashid Khan and S. Chikkarangappa. Das is currently placed third in the rankings.

Das (68-70-65), who was overnight tied sixth, shot his best score of the week as he came up with an eagle and eight birdies against three bogeys.

He began the day on a bright note with an eight-foot birdie conversion on the first. He then stumbled with bogeys on the second and third due to some errors in judgment. The 31-year-old turned the tide in his favour with an eagle on the par-five fourth where he found the green in two shots and sank a 10-footer.

Das, also a winner of four titles, then went on a birdie-spree on the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th after landing it within six feet on all four occasions. His approach from 150 yards stopped within a whisker of the hole on the eighth. The bogey on the 14th was a minor blip as the local boy produced a fine chip shot on the 15th and two 25-footers on the 16th and 18th to earn three more birdies.

“The bogeys early on were disappointing. On the second, I didn’t go by my gut feeling as far as club selection is concerned and ended up with a poor tee shot. I then hit a half-hearted shot on the third.

“The eagle on the fourth was the turning point for me. I knew I could pick up the pace from there on. I then almost sank putts at will and fired a near-perfect approach on the eighth,” said Das, who has posted seven top-5s on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) in 2014.

Rashid Khan (71-63-71), who matched the course record in round two with a superb 63, had a relatively quieter day Saturday as he carded a 71. Rashid, however, hung on to his overnight second position at 11-under-205.
Khan had a forgettable start as he bogeyed the first and then found the water hazard to drop another shot on the third. He did pick up five birdies thereafter but the double-bogey on the 16th, where he found the hazard, put paid to his efforts.

Abhinav Lohan’s 65, the day’s joint best score along with Das’s round, catapulted him from overnight tied 14th to tied fourth at nine-under 207. The Faridabad-based professional had a run of five consecutive birdies from the 12th to the 16th.

Bangalore’s S. Chikkarangappa kept himself in the hunt for the Rolex Rankings title with a 72 that helped him join Lohan in tied fourth place.

Gaganjeet Bhullar of Kapurthala also took a share of fourth position after his round of 70.

Sri Lankan Mithun Perera (68) occupied seventh place at seven-under 209 while the Kolkata duo of S.S.P. Chowrasia (68) and Arjun Atwal (72) were a further shot back in joint eighth along with overnight leader Shubhankar Sharma (77) of Gurgaon.