Manav, Mukesh shine as Baek continues to lead in Indian Open
A nervy Manav Jaini (71) was erratic throughout, while Mukesh Kumar (70) also let slip a good start but the two were still the highest-placed Indians on the leaderboard at tied third after the penultimate round of the Hero Honda Indian Open golf tournament on Saturday.
Jaini, who was overnight tied third, took his overall total to six-under 210, which was four shots behind leader Baek Seuk-hyun (68) of Korea.
The second spot was held by Swede Rikard Karlberg (68), who was nine-under overall at the Delhi Golf Course here.
The 28-year-old Jaini fetched four birdies against three bogeys in an admittedly erratic performance and was candid enough to say that nerves got the better of him as he is not used to being followed by large groups.
"I was feeling the nerves in the first five-six holes because obviously there were so many people to cheer me today and being a DGC guy, there are expectations.
"I hit some good and bad shots but I am happy with the way I scrambled back into the game.
"I would say it`s a good one-under score for Saturday. The best finish would be 10-under. I am six-under right now so I still have hopes," Jaini said.
"The strategy tomorrow would be to go out and do what I have been doing for the last two days," he added.
Mukesh, on the other hand, seemed to be in fine touch in a bogey-free front-nine that was studded with birdies on the first, fifth and eighth holes but things went haywire for him in the back-nine that was blemished by a couple of bogeys against just a lone birdie.
The veteran PGTI golfer, who has nine domestic titles under his belt, is hoping to make the most of the position tomorrow with a late charge for the title.
"Putting will be my focus. I am at a stage of my career where it would be difficult to win the tournament after coming so close again," the 45-year-old said.
Among other Indians in fray, three-time champion Jyoti Randhawa rediscovered some form to card a flawless three-under 69 to rise to the tied 12th spot with a four-under total.
"I hit the putts harder making sure I wasn`t leaving them short. But still I feel I left a few out there. What I am most happy about today was that I played a bogey free round. A day before the final round, it is always nice to have round like that. It adds to your confidence," Randhawa said.
"Four or five shots behind the leader means there is no pressure on me. But I do need a good start and keep it going on Sunday to have a shot at it," he added.
Sharing the spot with him was Arjun Atwal, who continued to struggle in a topsy-turvy two-under 70, that had five birdies and a eagle against a couple of double-bogeys and a bogey.
Ashok Kumar (70) was also tied 12th.
"Overall I felt much better than the first two days. The feel is coming and I just need to avoid those double bogeys. I had two of them today. Other than that I played really well. I had some good putts. I holed a 45-footer on the 12th and that gave a good feeling," he said.
Shiv Kapur was a stroke adrift of the trio at tied 20th after carding a 69 Saturday.
Shamim Khan occupied the tied 27th position with a 74 that left his overall total at one-under.
After a couple of steady days, 19-year-old Rashid Khan, part of the silver-winning team from the Asian Games, returned a disappointing 76 that took his overall score to six-over.
Rashid slipped to tied 61st after the third round.