Saturday, March 31, 2012


New Delhi: Ashok Kumar of India took the surprise third round lead with a three-under-par 69 at the Panasonic Open India today, but has proven winner Gaganjeet Bhullar trailing closely.
Kumar, a former caddie at the Delhi Golf Club, was hot with his irons as he missed only one green in regulation to take a one-shot lead over Bhullar, a two-time Asian Tour winner, on eight-under-par 208.
Bhullar fired a 70 to lie in second place while Shankar Das ensured the top three spots were occupied by Indians in the penultimate round of the US$300,000 event.
Overnight leader Siddikur, nicknamed the “Tiger Woods of Bangladesh”, slipped back with a 73 to share fourth place with Indians Digvijay Singh (68) and Manav Jaini (72) and Australian Wade Ormsby (71), who is celebrating his 32nd birthday today.
Kumar has come a long way since his days as a caddy at the Delhi Golf Club as he won 20 titles on the local circuit and claimed the 2011 Greens in Regulation category on the Asian Tour with a strike rate of 78%.
Kumar, who birdied the last hole from 15 feet to take the outright lead, is not taking his lead for granted.
“I’m not even going to think about the title. It is too far fetch to think ahead now. I’m just going to concentrate on my own game and not the leaderboard,” said the 30-year-old.
“In the past, I’ve been aggressive on the final day but I’ve totally changed now and will play calmly. I will treat it like another day,” added Kumar, who is among five Indians in the top-10.
Bhullar holed a huge 25-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole and hopes the experience of winning on the Asian Tour will guide him to a third victory.
“Mentally there is a bit of relief in my mind that I’ve won before. Winning a tournament in India on the Asian Tour is a big deal for an Indian because you are playing in front of friends and family. It will definitely give me a great sense of achievement,” said Bhullar, whose last victory was in 2010.
Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour, rued a cold putter as he returned with three bogeys against two birdies but is still confident of making a final round title charge.
“My putting wasn’t good so I hope to get back on track. There’s a long way to go. I’m very confident for tomorrow. I feel I have a slight advantage because I’ve come close to winning on this course before,” said Siddikur, who finished in fifth place at the SAIL-SBI Open on the same venue last month.
Ormsby, a former European Tour player, celebrated his birthday with a battling 71 to put himself in contention for a first Asian Tour victory. He was one-over after nine holes but bounced back with birdies on holes 14 and 18.
“It is a little bit frustrating because I’m not holing enough putts. I was getting a bit down on myself as I was three-under after nine holes and the other guys were going up to eight-under. I kind of hung in there and I’m happy for giving myself a chance at the end of my round,” said Ormsby, who earned his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School earlier this year.
Par 216 (3x72) Yardage 6,983
208 Ashok KUMAR (IND) 70-69-69.
209 Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 72-67-70.
210 Shankar DAS (IND) 70-69-71.
211 Digvijay SINGH (IND) 70-73-68, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 73-67-71, Manav JAINI (IND) 72-67-72, SIDDIKUR  (BAN) 71-67-73.
212 Kunal BHASIN (AUS) 71-73-68.
213 Ben FOX (USA) 73-71-69, Niall TURNER (IRL) 73-69-71.
214 Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 71-74-69, Peter KARMIS (RSA) 75-67-72.
215 Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 73-70-72, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-69-76.
218 Ross Bain (Scotland) 79 69 70 (T25)
220 James Byrne (Scotland) 70 75 74 (T38)





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