Lahiri surges ahead

Sanjay lies second; Chikka closes in

Lahiri surges ahead

Title favourite Anirban Lahiri withstood a brilliant mid-round onslaught from the seasoned Sanjay Kumar to propel himself within touching distance of an elusive win at his home course -- the Eagleton Golf Resort.

Struggling to find rhythm amidst a barrage of birdies from the sweet-striking Sanjay, Lahiri regained his composure in the nick of time, covering the back-nine in a blistering six-under to eventually card a superb eight-under 64 in the third round of the PGTI-Eagleburg Open here on Thursday.

Lahiri’s yet another scorcher, following his Wednesday’s jaw-dropping 62, took his total to 199 and extended his lead to a comfortable five shots over Sanjay (68).

 Another local lad, the 19-year-old S Chikkarangappa, too continued his climb towards the top, shooting a sparkling six-under 66 to rise to third at 205. While he may be six shots behind his idol Lahiri, Chikkarangappa’s fighting performance brought cheers to the localites as they would not have to divide their loyalties between the two as the duo will be teeing off together in the final round. 

Just like on Wednesday, Lahiri made a fiery start to establish an early authority. Brilliant approach shots from 100 yards out to within two feet from the pin helped him pick up two shots right away and open a three-shot lead. After parring the next three holes, things failed to click for the 26-year-old as Sanjay began to take control proceeding with some vintage play.

Although he was unable to match playing partners Lahiri and K Prabagaran with distance off the tee falling way behind them often, the Lucknow pro outscored them in the iron-play department to repeatedly set up birdie opportunities which he didn’t miss. Sanjay reeled off a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh to share the lead at 11-under with Lahiri at the turn.

While Sanjay was going great guns, Lahiri struggled with his driving and putting as momentum switched completely. However, Lahiri, stepped up the ante when it mattered most to first go toe-to-toe with Sanjay and then race past the veteran.

He sank a 30-footer eagle on the 10th and a five-foot birdie on the 11th, holes where Sanjay managed a birdie each. Both dropped a shot on the par-3 12th, but three birdies on the trot from the 13th helped him gain the upper hand by four shots.

Leading scores (after 54 holes): 199: Anirban Lahiri (73, 62, 64); 204: Sanjay Kumar (69, 67, 68); 205: S Chikkarangappa (72, 67, 66); 206: Rahil Gangjee (68, 71, 67); 207: Arshpreet Thind (68, 71, 68); 208: K Prabagaran (68, 69, 71); 210: Rashid Khan (74, 72, 64); 211: Rahul Bajaj (71, 69, 71); 212: Vikrant Chopra (70, 70, 72), Naman Dawar (71, 68, 73), Abhinav Lohan (70, 69, 73).

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