Hyderabad, Nov 11 (IANS) Gurugram’s Manu Gandas took a big step towards defending his title on the third day of the Telangana Golconda Masters 2022 as he carded the day’s best score of five-under 65 for an aggregate of 22-under 188 which put him six strokes clear at the top here on Friday.
Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu too posted a 65 to move up two spots to the second position at 16-under 194 at the Rs. 40 lakh event.
Gandas and Sandhu, who are in a tough fight in the PGTI Order of Merit race with three and four wins in the season respectively, look set for yet another showdown on the final on Saturday at the Hyderabad Golf Association (HGA) course, which is getting chillier in the morning and blustery by the day.
Manu Gandas (63-60-65), currently third in the PGTI Order of Merit — just one spot behind Sandhu, extended his impressive overnight lead by one shot as he struck six birdies and a bogey. The 26-year-old Gandas, who shot a course record 60 in round two, drove the par-4 second green to set up an early birdie but then had a quiet front-nine as he dropped his first bogey of the tournament on the seventh and made pars on the rest of the holes.
Manu Gandas’s round took off on the back nine where he claimed five birdies including two tap-ins and a 12-footer on the 17th. He enjoyed a good day with the driver and the putter.
Gandas said, “I didn’t give myself as many chances on the front nine but I recovered well in the back half. I made some bad calculations but my driving got better as the round progressed today and my putting was also quite consistent. The back nine definitely gives more scoring opportunities as you can reach a few greens there. In round four I’m just going to go out there and keep doing what I’ve been doing so far.”
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (64-65-65), who at one point had narrowed the gap with Manu to just one stroke, enjoyed a good ball-striking day despite enduring a cold putter. Sandhu sank five birdies on his first 10 holes including a long conversion on the seventh before incurring a penalty on the 15th where his ball was lost that in turn resulted in a double-bogey. Sandhu finally rallied with birdies on the 16th and 17th to negate the double bogey.
“I got off to a hot start but the putter let me down today. I felt that I left a lower round out there today after missing plenty of putts inside 10 feet. I’ll spend some time practicing my short game today in order to prepare for the last round,” Sandhu was quoted as saying in a release by the PGTI.
Syed Saqib Ahmed (67) of Bengaluru was placed third at 13-under 197 while another Bengalurean Abhishek Jha (67) and the Chandigarh duo of Jairaj Singh Sandhu (69) and Angad Cheema (72) were joint fourth at 10-under 200.
The 16-year-old Hyderabad-based amateur Milind Soni, who was in the top 3 for the first two days, slipped to tied ninth at seven-under 203 after returning a 75 on Friday. Hyderabad professional Mohd Azhar (67) shared the ninth spot with Soni. Hardik Chawda (70), another professional from Hyderabad, was placed tied 11th at six-under 204.