New Delhi: Chiragh Kumar brought home a steady two-under 70 in the third round but could not hold on to the lead as David Gleeson of Australia rose to the top with a scintillating second consecutive 66 on day three of the USD 1.25 million Hero Indian Open golf tournament on Saturday.
Gleeson fired as many as eight birdies against a couple of bogeys to take his three-day aggregate to 16-under 200 and open up a narrow one-stroke lead over Chiragh, going into the final round on Saturday.
Four strokes behind Chiragh was Scotland`s Ross Bain (68) , who was tied second on day one, and Lu Wei Chih (66) of Chinese Taipei.
SSP Chowrasia, who had won the Avantha Masters here earlier this year, moved up to the tied fifth position after turning in an improved four-under 68, while Himmat Rai, who won the Handa Singapore Classic recently, returned a 69 to grab the tied ninth position with a total of eight-under 208.
Defending champion Rikard Karlberg stumbled to a three-over 75 and Ryder Cup star Edoardo Molinari of Italy carded a consecutive 70 to lie tied 55th and tied 18th respectively with totals of 218 and 211.
Among other Indians, Harendra Gupta (71) slipped to tied 11th, while Gaurav Pratap Singh blasted a 66 to jump 30 places to the 17th spot. One stroke adrift was Anirban Lahiri (69) at tied 18th.
Overnight leader Chiragh didn`t play badly as he birdied the second, seventh and ninth holes punctuated by a bogey on the fourth hole. But he missed a couple of birdie putts and parred all the holes on his back nine.
He could have finished the joint leader but he missed a birdie putt on the last hole after his second shot hit a man-made obstacle and was given a free drop.
"I am not totally dissatisfied with my score. I played alright. I missed a few birdie putts at my back nine but then you cannot read them correctly all the time. David was hitting well today and his putting was also very good," Chiragh said.
"I was trying to play my game. I was not affected by David`s game. I missed a few putts but it evened out in the end. I hit a few good strokes but didn`t sink my putts. I shot two-under today and I think a similar score would be good for tomorrow. Let`s see," he said.
Gleeson had a solid start as he birdied the first two holes but a birdie-bogey finish meant, he was two-under at the turn. On his resumption, he raised his game and came up with five birdies in the first seven holes of the back-nine but a last hole bogey left him with a one-stroke lead on day three.
"We both had flying starts which was great. I`m pretty happy to hit a few approach shots close to the hole. I missed my birdie putt on hole six and bogeyed nine where the momentum shifted to Chiragh. But I bounced back with 10 and 11 and enjoyed the day," he said.
"I had to hit a three iron off number nine because the tee was back. I wanted to hit more club there. On this course, if you have slight indecision, it is amazing how it can haunt you," he added.
Asked about his 18th hole bogey, Gleeson said, "I didn`t hit a poor shot on the 18th but it didn`t work out because I wasn`t decided on my club selection. I was out of position on 11 but for the rest of the day, I was pretty much on the correct side of the fairway."
Chowrasia was four-under after five holes but a bogey on the ninth pulled him back a bit. However the Kolkata golfer made amends by picking up a stroke on the 17th to end the day on a high.
"I had a good start. The first three consecutive birdies gave me the momentum. My overall game was better today, though I missed a couple of birdie putts. I had a chance of a hole in one at the fifth but missed it by a foot. The course is harder now so the ball is rolling more so I tried to keep the trajectory low," he said.
"I tried to catch up today and played, hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come up with a good score too," he added.