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Hyderabad, February 7, 2020
Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat posted a classy five-under 66 to surge ahead in round three of the Golconda Masters Championship at the Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC) here on Friday.
Ahlawat held a one-shot lead at 14-under 199. Pune’s Udayan Mane delivered a 65 on the windiest day of the tournament to be placed second at 13-under 200 at the season-opening Rs. 40 lakh event.
Half-way leader Khalin Joshi of Bengaluru slipped to third place after a round of 71 took his total to 11-under 202.
Ahlawat (65-68-66), lying second and two off the lead at the half-way stage, made a brisk start for the second day in succession as he birdied four of the first six holes thanks to two long putts and two quality chip-putts.
The tall and lanky Ahlawat, who earned his breakthrough win on the PGTI last year, then dropped a double-bogey after finding the water on the seventh. Thereafter, the birdies dried up for the 23-year-old in the middle stages of the round. He finally bounced back with birdies on the 15th, 16th and 18th.
Ahlawat, who recorded a career-best fifth place finish on the PGTI Rankings in 2019, sank a 25-footer on the 16th and landed his approach from 100 yards to within three feet on the 18th.
He said, “Keeping in mind the tough scoring conditions, I would say today’s round was my best effort so far this week. I had a terrific start, drove the ball well and made three birdie putts from a range of 10 to 25 feet. I made only one error on the seventh and that came against the run of play. Importantly, I recovered well after that.
“Having tasted success last season, I now know what it takes to finish a match. There is more clarity in my thought-process in crunch situations. I don’t fear winning any longer,” added Ahlawat, who came close to winning several times before finally breaking the victory barrier at Digboi last year.
Mane’s (68-67-65) week has progressively gotten better. He has zoomed from tied 18th in round one to tied seventh after day two and now moving up to second place. The winner of last season’s year-ending Tata Steel Tour Championship, he had problems judging the wind direction that resulted in a bogey and a double-bogey for him on the fifth and seventh, thus negating his birdie on the sixth.
But the tide began to turn for 28-year-old Mane from the eighth onwards as he birdied four consecutive holes till the 11th with the last being a 40-feet conversion. The eight-time winner on the PGTI then added four more birdies to his card and closed the round on a high with a curling 12-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.
Mane said, “I’m working on my swing at the moment since it’s the start of the season. In that context I’m pretty happy with my hitting today. My short-game was better though and helped me recover from tough spots.
Khalin Joshi mixed four birdies with two bogeys and a double-bogey during his 71 that placed him third at 11-under 202. Patna’s Aman Raj (68) and Delhi’s Shamim Khan (69) were in tied fourth at 10-under 203. Delhi’s Rashid Khan (71), was in tied seventh at seven-under 206.
Mohammad Sanju of Kolkata shot the day’s best score of seven-under64 which featured an eagle, six birdies and a bogey. Sanju was tied 10th at six-under 207. Bengaluru’s Viraj Madappa (70) was also placed tied 10th.
Venkkat Gautham (69-72-73), the only Hyderabad-based professional to make the cut, occupied tied 33rd place at one-over 214.