Khalin Joshi’s birdie blitz leaves him two shots off leader Poom Saksansin
Bangalore’s Khalin Joshi’s brilliant run on his back nine leaves the prospect of a close contest with Thai leader Saksansin on the final day of the Take Solutions Masters in Bangalore.other sports Updated: Aug 05, 2017 17:53 IST
The presence of four local players in the top ten saw the crowd swell early on Saturday during the penultimate round of the $ 300,000 Take Solutions Masters Asian Tour event at the Karnataka Golf Association golf course here. They weren’t denied any of the thrills they expected as Bangalore golfer Khalin Joshi, in a remarkable comeback, fired four birdies in the last five holes to reduce the gap of overnight leader Poom Saksansin to two shots. The Thai still held sway, for the third consecutive day, with a 54-hole total of 12-under 201. Saksansin shot a one-under 70 while Joshi, who was two-over on his front nine, eventually carded a three-under 68.
Another Bangalore player Chikkarangappa stayed in the hunt, two shots further behind. Delhi’s Abhinav Lohan fired the day’s best of seven-under 64, which comprised 10 birdies against a bogey and double bogey, catapulting him to joint-fourth with Divyanshu Bajaj at 206. Ajeetesh Sandhu and Syed Saqib Ahmed were the other Indians in the top ten, sharing the joint eighth position.
Saksansin and Joshi began the day four strokes apart but with two birdies in the first three holes, against a bogey from the visitor, Joshi narrowed the lead to a single stroke. However, Joshi dropped four shots in the last four holes of his front nine, including a double bogey, and the lead widened to six shots at the turn. “My drives were a bit awry. I knew everything was ok but just had to calm myself,” said Khalin.
The return journey belonged to the Bangalorean as he first made a confidence-building birdie on the par-5 11th. “The birdie settled my game and I knew I could make a comeback.” With a hat-trick of birdies beginning from the 14th, the lead was cut to three after Saksansin saved two shots on the 10th and 11th while losing one on the 12th.
With the Thai choosing to play safe rather than attack, Khalin’s second on the par 4-18th found the edge of the green from where he finished with a birdie, one which would go on to help Khalin step on to the tee on the final day with confidence.
“With the players bunched together, it could be any one’s day. I would like to keep it straight and go for my first Asian Tour victory,” said Khalin, whose best finish on the Tour has been a tied-second at the Bangladesh Open in 2015.
Top scores after 54 holes:
201 Poom Saksansin (THA) (64, 67, 70);
203 Khalin Joshi (IND) (68, 67, 68);
205 Chikkarangappa S. (IND) (68, 68, 69);
206 Abhinav Lohan (IND) (70, 72, 64), Divyanshu Bajaj (IND) (66, 71, 69);
207 Natipong Srithong (THA) (72, 71, 64), Casey O’Toole (USA) (69, 73, 65);
208 Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) (71, 72, 65), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) (69, 72, 67), Danny Chia (MAS) (70, 67, 71), Syed Saqib Ahmed (IND) (67, 70, 71), Rory Hie (INA) (69, 67, 72).