Home golfers have been working as a relay unit to keep their challenge going at the US 2 million dollar Indian Open 2023. On Saturday, the moving day, it was Veer Ahlawats turn to pick up the baton at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
The lanky golfer for whom this is his home venue brought in a solid four under par 68 to share fourth place, six shots behind Germany's Yannik Paul (71) and five behind another German Marcel Siem (67). Paul (11-under) and Siem (10-under) were separated by just one shot.
Overall though, it was a strong display by Indian golfers with three of them in the Top-10. Ahlawat was tied fourth while Angad Cheema (4-under 212) was tied seventh and Honey Baisoya (3-under 213) was tied 10th.
At various points during the day, Indians made a move on the leaderboard, including Angad Cheema, Honey Baisoya and most particularly Yashas Chandra, only to fall away. Mysore-based Chandra in particular was most impressive on the front nine where he picked up five shots to move within four of the top despite a late bogey.
The back nine though was a disaster as he drove into the bushes on 10 for a triple bogey and then into the hazard on 17 to drop a further two shots, playing near-faultless golf otherwise, especially on the greens, where he turned in a putting master-class.
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Ahlawat (73-70-68) was the steadiest of the lot, his third-day card marred by just one blemish even as others around him dropped shots in a bunch. Ahlawat had five birdies in his first 10 holes and then had just one bogey and no birdies in the remaining eight.
Ahlawat was tied fourth with last week's winner in Thailand, Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen (six-under 66) and Jorge Campillo (67).
"It's important to play it shot by shot over here and that's what I did well today," the long-hitting Ahlawat said.
"The fact that I'm playing at my home course obviously adds to my confidence. A decent run of form on the Asian Tour and PGTI last year have also contributed to the good mental space that I'm in at the moment.
The solid start set up the day for me. I hit 16 greens in regulation as my ball-striking was top-notch. I left myself a lot of 10 to 12 feet putts most of which I converted with my putting being quite consistent. The relatively calm conditions also helped in scoring today," he added.
Ahlawat had just one bogey, on the Par-4 14th against five birdies.
Cheema (68-71-73) had four birdies and he gave away five shots including a double-bogey on the eighth while Baisoya (66-74-73) was unfortunate to blade his ball across the green and into the bunker on the Par-3 16th from where he made a double bogey, the only blot on his card.
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Further down the order, there were good recoveries by Gaganjeet Bhullar (68) who was T28 at level par 216.
Shubhankar Sharma (74), Manu Gandas (73) with two double bogeys and Sachin Baisoya (72) were all on level par 216 and tied 28th. Shiv Kapur (69) was T37 alongside Kartik Sharma (70) on 1-over 217.