Chikkarangappa S of Bangalore surged into the lead in round three of the PGTI Kashmir Masters presented by KEO, a PGTI Super Series event, being played at the Royal Springs Golf Course, Srinagar. Chikkarangappa fired a second straight four-under-68 on day three to move his total to 15-under-201. Delhi’s Rashid Khan, who had set the course record in round two, ended round three in second place, at 14-under-202, after shooting a one-under-71 on Friday.According to a statement issued to KNS, Chikkarangappa (65-68-68), the first round leader, who had slipped to second place on day two, regained the lead once again with a solid 68 in the third round. Chikka was quick off the blocks in round three as he made four birdie putts from within eight feet on the first seven holes. The Bangalore golfer thus not only erased the overnight deficit of two shots but also established a two-shot lead over Rashid Khan (68-63-71), the round two leader, who made two birdies and two bogeys on the first seven holes.
The lead changed hands once again as Rashid rallied with birdies on the eighth and ninth while Chikka dropped a bogey on the ninth. However, with Rashid dropping a shot on the 10th and Chikka gaining two on the 10th and 11th, the latter was back on top. Chikka’s bogey after a three-putt on the 14th left him with a one-shot lead at the end of the day.“I needed a good start today and I got one. I was in my zone till the 13th, having done everything right. I landed it really close on the 10th and sank a 20-footer on the 11th. But I got the yardage wrong on the 14th and the bogey on that hole stopped the momentum in a way. My putter went cold thereafter. Nevertheless, I held on to the lead after making pars on the last four holes,” said the 20-year-old Chikkarangappa.He added, “It’ll be fun to play with Rashid Khan and Abhijit Singh Chadha in the leader group on the final day. The three of us have played a lot of golf together over the last few years. We’ve been team-mates in the Indian junior and amateur teams. The fact that we’ve known each other so well, will be an incentive to play better.”Abhijit Singh Chadha (72-65-68) of Chandigarh, who ended the third round in third place at 11-under-205, will join Chikka and Rashid in the leader group in round four. Chadha shot a bogey-free 68 on Friday.Gurgaon-based Shubhankar Sharma, the PGTI Super Series Points leader, is currently in fourth place at 10-under-206 followed by Rahil Gangjee of Kolkata who is a further shot back in fifth position.
Jyoti Randhawa of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, posted a 73 on Friday to be tied ninth at seven-under-209. Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh came up with the day’s best score of seven-under-65 to take a share of 13th place at six-under-210.SSP Chowrasia of Kolkata is joint 19th at four-under-212. Youth brigade dominates leaderboard. The leaderboard at the end of round three of the PGTI Kashmir Masters presented by KEO is dominated by the youth brigade of Indian professional golf. The players in the top four positions going into the final round – Chikkarangappa, Rashid Khan, Abhijit Singh Chadha & Shubhankar Sharma - are all below the age of 24 and each of them have won one or more title on the PGTI. The leader group comprises of Rashid Khan, Abhijit Singh Chadha & Chikkarangappa. These three players are winners of the PGTI’s Emerging Player of the Year award in the last three seasons. Rashid won it in 2011 followed by Abhijit in 2012 and Chikka in 2013. Rashid Khan is also the reigning Rolex Rankings champion. Shubhankar Sharma, on the other hand, is ranked second in the Rolex Rankings, and is also the PGTI Super Series Points leader. The leaderboard at the PGTI Kashmir Masters presented by KEO, is in other words, an indicator of the rise of Indian youngsters on the PGTI. (KNS)