Nitithorn leads the Thai challenge as windy conditions test field at DGC Open
New Delhi, March 26, 2022
Unruffled by the strong Indian challenge and windy conditions around him, Nitithorn Thippong carded a second successive 2-under par 70 round to unfurl the Thai flag on the top of the leaderboard at the end of the third and penultimate round of the inaugural The DGC open at the Delhi Golf Club here on Saturday.
Overnight third, Nitithorn showed no sign of awe as he played steady golf to hit four birdies as against two bogeys to take his three-round total to 8- under 208 (68,70,70) and emerge leader.
The 25-year-old Thai finished tied fourth in the Royal’s Cup on home soil for his best finish on the Asian Tour and is now on the threshold of vastly improving upon that tomorrow.
“Today, I just focussed 100% on my game and my process. So, the result was really good today. I am going to play the same, just focus on my process and have fun. I didn’t hit so many greens, but I got a lot of great up and downs. I think I made almost every up and down. I was a bit nervous but just tried to have fun,”said the soft-spoken Thai.
Ajeetesh Sandhu managed to hold on to his second place with a one-over 73 third round.
He dropped two strokes but carded a birdie on the 8th to be one over while going out, on his return nine, he had two bogeys on the 10th and the 15th but an eagle on the 14th helped him to end the round with one over and to be two strokes adrift the leader at 6-under 210.
“A difficult day, the course was firm. It was a very good test out there today. Need to do some practice to get ready for tomorrow and hopefully it is a better day tomorrow," said Sandhu.
“I hung in there today, didn't really have my best day. Off the tee, with the irons, and with the putter, everything was kind of average. But I'm glad I'm still up there and I'll have a shot to win tomorrow, so that means a lot.
"I think you have to take your medicine once you hit it in the bushes here. You can't be too aggressive from there. You're very lucky if you have the spin, and if you do, you just have to chip it out and then hope for the best from there.
“The eagle on 14 was probably the best I played. Hit a really good drive and then I hit a 5 Iron to 15 feet and then one of the only putts that I made today. So that was good. The wind was tough to gauge which way it was coming from. This is such a tree-lined course and it swirls around so much, that it's tough to walk into a ball trusting the wind which way it's going, so that's the tough part.” He opined.
Another Thai, Settee Prakongvech, who was joint 12th after the second round, climbed up to the 3rd place with two-under 70 round. His three- round aggregate is five-under 211 (71,70,70).
“It's really windy today. The wind was very strong today and it was always changing, it's difficult.
"In my starting holes, I hit very good tee shots, good second shots, good putts, so everything came together. But in the middle, I missed some key shots, some holes I missed and chip out.
"The greens are a bit faster today and a bit hard. And also the pin positions were difficult. I didn't expect too much today, but no one played well. Some holes I have been using the driver, and on some just hybrid, 4 iron," said Settee.
Gaganjeet Bhullar also returned one-over 73 to stay at 4th place with 4-under 212.
“I played well, drove it well and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities by hitting most of the greens in regulation. I started well with a birdie but the flag on the second hole was quite tough so I missed an up and down there.
“The last four to five holes were playing really tough and the moment you missed the green there, making an up and down was not easy. I’m glad I finished the round with a birdie on the 18th,” said Bhullar.
Interestingly, the first and third placed Thai golfers returned identical two- under 70 rounds while the second and fourth placed Indians had one-over 73 rounds.
Second round leader Veer Ahlawat had a poor day in the office as he had a round of 78 and slipped to joint fifth positon with a total of three-under 213 (68, 67,78).
Giving Veer company at the fifth slot was compatriot M. Dharma who had one-over 73 for a total of 213.
Sweden's Bjorn Hellgren also moved up to 7th place with a round of 73.
Sachin Baisoya and Justin Quiban (The Philippines) returned three-under 69 while first day joint leader Shankar Das (74) and Manu Gandas (75) were clubbed at joint eighth place with a total of one-under 215.