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Amardip Sinh Malik stays in control with steady 70, emerges top contender

Jamshedpur, Dec. 19: Noida’s Amardip Sinh Malik emerged top contender going into the final round of the 14th TATA Open as he held on to his overnight lead with a steady one-under-70 in the third round. Malik’s three-day total stood at 13-under-200.

There was a four-way tie for second place between Panchkula’s Angad Cheema, Noida’s Vikrant Chopra, Mukesh Kumar of Mhow and Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa, the quartet snapping at the leader’s heels at 11-under-202.

Amardip Sinh Malik (65-65-70), the overnight leader by one shot, stretched his lead to two strokes on Saturday after a hard-fought 70 that featured seven birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey.

Malik struggled till the turn as he could pick up only two birdies against four bogeys. He found the hazard on the third for the second successive day and attacked the flag for a chip-in on the sixth but ended up dropping another shot there.

Amardip sank birdie putts from seven to 10 feet on the 10th and 11th to get his round back on track. However, those gains were neutralized when his erratic tee shot on the 12th landed out of bounds and resulted in a double-bogey. The 30-year-old then rallied with birdies on three of the remaining six holes.

Malik landed it within inches of the pin from 120 yards out to tap-in for birdie on 13. He collected two more birdies with 15-feet conversions on the 15th and 16th. He could’ve gone lower had he drained a five-footer on the closing 18th.

“I hit a couple of bad shots and got unlucky with a couple of bad bounces today. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the one-under since I’m still ahead despite dropping all those shots. The shot of the day was the approach on the 13th that landed inches from the flag. That came immediately after the double-bogey and lifted my confidence,” said Malik, a winner on the PGTI last year.

He added, “I feel the tournament is now wide open and there could be as many as eight players in contention. Anyone shooting a four or five under on the final day could win. This golf course rewards patience and staying patient would be the key for me in round four.”

Angad Cheema had the rare distinction of making two eagle-twos in the same round en route his 67 on Saturday. Cheema, a winner on the PGTI in 2013, holed his approach from 131 yards for eagle on the 10th and followed that up with a chip-in eagle from 25 yards on the 12th. He also double-bogeyed on the 15th after landing his tee shot into the hazard.

Vikrant Chopra and Mukesh Kumar, like Cheema, also fired scores of 67 to climb from overnight tied ninth to tied second. C Muniyappa shot a 69 to make it a four-way tie for second place.

Delhi golfers Honey Baisoya and Vinod Kumar were in joint sixth along with Chadigarh’s Sujjan Singh at 10-under-203. Baisoya’s bogey-free seven-under-64 was the best score of the day.

Abhishek Jha of Bengaluru, the round one leader, was a further shot back in ninth place.

Defending champion Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow occupied 16th position at six-under-207.

Jamshedpur’s Karan Taunk was tied 37th at one-under-212.

Earlier in the day, the second round was completed when the 12 golfers with unfinished rounds from Friday came out at 7 am and finished their rounds. Thereafter the cut was declared at one-over-143 with fifty-six professionals making it to the weekend rounds.

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