Shubhankar in sparkling form

After a disappointing start of one-over 73, young Shubhankar Sharma got a sound advice from his caddie: ‘Aim for 19 birdies to win the Panasonic Open.’

The youngster took the words to heart. After rolling seven of them in the second round, the Gurgaon-based golfer sank six on Saturday to end the third round at tied second at the Delhi Golf Club.

The 18-year-old, who flaunted the best card on Tuesday with seven-under 65 to climb to tied-seventh, is now six birdies away from reaching his target and who knows what might be in store for him! With four-under 68 in the third round and overall score of 10-under 206, he finds himself in the company of Mithun Perera (69), Siddikur Rehman (69) and defending champion Wade Ormsby (70), all three enjoying shared lead for some part of the day.
  
Ormsby escaped with a bogey on the 15th hole after his approach shot landed in the jungle. A birdie on the last hole though arrested further damage.

For Rahil Gangjee (71) it was disappointing third round after a consistent performance thus far. He, though, managed to rule the leaderboard for the third day in row, albeit with a slim advantage of one-stroke. He will have to bring his top game on Sunday to beat a quality field.

It was hard toil on Saturday for Gangjee, who after starting with a birdie, faced a tough time on the greens. The two bogeys, on seventh and 11th hole, pegged him back. He could have drawn a breather with a possible eagle on the 18th hole but misjudged the line to settle for a birdie, the last of three he could muster this day.

“I didn’t hit the shots and that’s what I didn’t like about the entire day,” he said. “I sunk a bunch of great putts but I had tricky lines so I got a bit unlucky today.”

However, it was Shubhankar who gripped the Indian interest. The youngster, who turned pro last year in January, fired 10-feet birdies on the fifth, eight and 13th hole and followed them with impressive chip-putts for par on the 15th, 16th and 17th. He rounded off with another birdie on the 18th to put himself in contention on the final day.

“I was determined to make a comeback. After my first round of 73 my caddie told me to aim for 19 birdies in the next three rounds if I wanted to win,” he said.

Leading scores (after 54 holes, Indians unless mentioned): 205: Rahil Gangjee (66, 68, 71); 206: Shubhankar Sharma (73, 65, 68), Siddikur Rahman (Ban, 70, 67, 69), Mithun Perera (Sri, 70, 67, 69), Wade Ormsby (Aus, 68, 68, 70); 207: Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha, 70, 68, 69); 208: Unho Park (Aus, 69, 71, 68), Lionel Weber (Fra, 73, 66, 69), Pratap Atwal (69, 68, 71); 209: Rashid Khan (68, 70, 71); 210: Akinori Tani (Jpn, 71, 72, 67), SSP Chowrasia (70, 71, 69), Jazz Janewattananond (Tha, 69, 70, 71).

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