Brilliant Bhullar storms to top of the chart

Brilliant Bhullar storms to top of the chart

Kapurthala lad fires 3-under 69 to surge ahead of opponents

Full Swing: Raju Ali Mollah watches his drive during the third round of the PGTI Players Championship at Eagleton Golf Resort on Friday. DH photo

Riding on a huge surge in form, the 21-year-old Kapurthala lad set himself up for a fourth PGTI title of the season after returning a three-under 69 for a three-day total of 10-under 206. Overnight joint leader Raju Ali Mollah, who carded a one-under 71, trailed Bhullar by two strokes, while Ali Sher and Anura Rohana managed a 71 each for a share of the third spot at the Eagleton Golf Resort. The day began with two golfers from two different generations matching each other stroke for stroke.

With the 45-year-old Sher, teeing off a group earlier, picking up strokes on the first and third to level scores, Bhullar birdied his first hole for a two-way tie at the top.

Driving at his best, Bhullar was let down by putting. But it was not just he who struggled with his putting on the thick greens, as a host of others too either read the line incorrectly or misjudged the slope.

Despite this, Bhullar kept his composure and relied on some strong hitting to produce a good opening nine, where he had four birdies.

On the par-4 fifth hole, he holed out a 10-foot foot before hitting the flag with his second shot on the par-5 seventh and holing the six-foot birdie putt. He fired another birdie on the eighth to take the turn at four-under for the day.

Veteran Sher maintained the pressure on Bhullar by picking up strokes on the sixth and tenth, and when the younger man bogeyed the 11th, the contest warmed up on a hot and humid day.

However, Sher’s challenge fizzled out in incredible fashion after the former Indian Open champion holed out a double-bogey each on the 13th and 16th, before dropping a stroke on the 18th as well. A confident Bhullar played out the remaining holes to par, justifying his stature as the title favourite.

Leading scores (after 54 holes): 206: Gaganjeet Bhullar (68, 69, 69); 208: Raju Ali Mollah (70, 67, 71); 209: Ali Sher (66, 72, 71), Anura Rohana (67, 71, 71); 211: Vikrant Chopra (72, 71, 68), Vinod Kumar (67, 72, 72); 212: Ashok Kumar (69, 73, 70), Abhishek Jha (A) (66, 73, 73); 213: Digvijay Singh (71, 68, 74).