Chiangmai (Thailand): Rashid Khan turned in a strong birdie-birdie finish to move into second place, even as overnight leader Jyoti Randhawa bogeyed the closing hole to drop alongside him after the penultimate round of the Chiangmai Golf Classic here on Saturday.
Meanwhile, leading the field was Thai Thanyakon Khrongpha after firing a five-under 67. He was at 15-under 201, two shots ahead of Rashid and Randhawa. Among other Indians, S Chikkarangappa (69-72-71) was tied 29th, while the new rising Indian star, Shubhankar Sharma (71-70-72) was tied 32nd alongside Chiragh Kumar (69-75-69) at three-under 213. Abhijit Chadha (71-74-73) and M Dharma (70-74-74) were tied for 60th at two-over 218.
Rashid who had a subdued front nine at one-under 35, exploded on the back nine with five birdies and leaped to second spot. Randhawa had five birdies and three bogeys, including one on the last hole.
Rashid, who won his first Asian Tour title on home soil in March, birdied the last two holes to stay in the title mix. He reaped the rewards of working with a mental coach, saying it has helped him stay patient on the course.
"I'm excited but I'll need to keep doing what I've been doing. I was struggling with my irons and gave myself long putts which was a bit frustrating. I kept myself patient and I'm trying not to lose my temper on the course. I've talked about this with my mental coach and I'm starting to see the results," said the 23-year-old Khan.
Randhawa was rattled by an opening bogey and had to dig deep to keep himself in the title race. At the age of 42, the former Asian Tour number one and eight-time winner hopes to put his experience to good use.
"The young boys these days are good and experienced enough to play under pressure. It's a young man's game now. But experience does matter. Hopefully my experience will count but it is tough to chase young people because they have the energy to go for it," said Randhawa.
The lanky Thai Thanyakon tapped-in for birdie on the last hole for a 15-under 201 total and he stayed in line for his maiden Asian Tour title. Australian rookie Kalem Richardson fired the low round 64 to tie for fourth place with countryman Scott Barr on 204 at the USD 750,000 Asian Tour event staged at the majestic Alpine Golf Resort Chiangmai.
Reigning Order of Merit champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand placed himself in the title mix following a bogey-free 66 while Major champion Jason Dufner of the United States slipped to tied 24th following a 73.
"I'm feeling a little nervous but I think there is more excitement than pressure," smiled Thanyakon, who won the gold medal in the team event at the 2007 and 2009 South East Asian Games.
A three-time winner on the local circuit last year, the 24-year-old Thanyakon was cruising on three-under before dropping two bogeys on 11 and 12. He bounced back immediately with three straight birdies from the 13th hole before narrowly missing an eagle putt on 18.
"I felt a little angry with myself after I bogeyed 11th and 12th. I could have avoided it but I told myself to get over it and I'm glad I was able to recover strong. Overall, today's result was much better than I expected," he said.