Steady Siddikur takes slender lead

Steady Siddikur takes slender lead

Champ Lahiri stays in hunt with 66

Steady Siddikur takes slender lead

Bangladeshi Siddikur was rock steady as he carded a third straight four-under 68 for a one-shot lead over title holder Anirban Lahiri of India in the SAIL-SBI Open here on Friday.

Siddikur put himself in good position to win a second Asian Tour title after firing five birdies against a lone bogey at the Delhi Golf Club to seize the lead from Lahiri, who birdied his last two holes for a bogey-free 66 and a three-round total of 205.

Joint overnight leader Khalin Joshi battled to a 71 to end the day two strokes behind Siddikur in the $300,000 event while another local hope Rashid Khan was a further shot behind after a matching 71.

Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and home hero Shiv Kapur will enter the final day four off the lead after rounds of 67 and 69 respectively while American Chan Kim stumbled to a 74 to fall out of contention.

The 29-year-old Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour when he triumphed at the Brunei Open in 2010, was delighted to push ahead of the home favourites.

“Very consistent. I’m so happy,” said a delighted smiled Siddikur, who hit 12 fairways and 14 greens in regulation. “I’ve been very consistent. I’m happy with myself with three 68s. I’ve been trying to get more regulation play and it’s been working.”

Siddikur’s round was highlighted by a monster 40-foot birdie conversion on the 16th but he said a par save on the 18th after finding the punishing bushes was crucial as it kept his nose ahead of the defending champion Lahiri.

The 25-year-old Lahiri, who started the day four behind, charged into contention with a superb display of ball striking as he hit 15 greens in regulation. “It’s the best I have played all week. I’m getting more comfortable on the greens. Just a couple of bad swings but I got away with pars which was important. Four putts kind of stood at the lip but I’m not going to complain as some fell for me in the end,” said Lahiri, who is seeking a third Asian Tour victory.

The talented Joshi, who has grabbed the spotlight in his Asian Tour debut, lost his way momentarily on his outward nine with three bogeys but fought back to stay in the hunt for a dream victory.

Leading scores (after 54 holes, Indians unless mentioned): 204: Siddikur (Ban, 68, 68, 68); 205: Anirban Lahiri (71, 68, 66); 206: Khalin Joshi (66, 69, 71); 207: Rashid Khan (72, 64, 71); 208: Chapchai Nirat (Tha, 66, 75, 67), Shiv Kapur (Ind, 69, 70, 69).

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