Rashid Khan overcame a double bogey first up to reel in overnight leader S Chikkarangappa and take a three-shot lead into the final round of the $750,000 DGC Open at the Delhi Golf Course on Saturday. Rashid shot a four-under 68 while Chikka went two over and yet held a two-shot lead over the trio tied for the third spot.
While a steady downpour and swirling winds altered course conditions drastically after two benign days, Rashid and Chikka held their own on a day the leaderboard reflected the weather. Thailand’s defending champion Nitithorn Thippong went from overnight T-2 to T-52 while Honey Baisoya leapt from T-49 to T-3 with Thai Chapchai Nirat.
Rashid, second coming into Day 3, picked himself up after a double bogey 7 in the first hole with third birdies in the next four holes. He went bogey free from there and two birdies on the back nine gave him a cushion on the leaderboard. Six birdies in all left him at 11-under for the tournament. Chikka struggled on the wet course, especially on the green in a round without a single birdie.
Rashid used his driver just once on Saturday, relying mainly on 3-iron and 3-wood from the tee on the narrow course with unforgiving fairway thickets. “I hit back really well after the double bogey. I was just trying to find the green and give myself birdie opportunities. I also holed some really good putts today,” the 32-year-old twice Asian Tour winner said.
The round began in misty conditions and an intermittent drizzle. Play was halted for 45 minutes in the afternoon due to poor weather with threat of lightning. It had no impact on Rashid. He sank a birdie immediately on resumption and also birdied the par-5 14th to surge ahead.
“The weather didn’t really affect me though it’s tricky to make adjustments on such a day. You must judge your shots well, your caddie needs to save your clubs from getting wet, and you need to keep yourself dry,” the 32-year-old said.
Chikka was affected by the conditions. “The weather did play a part today. We always play in hotter and humid conditions. Even here, the first two days were quite warm,” he said.
“It takes a little time to get used to these conditions. The rain kept coming and it was tough to judge the reaction off the greens. I lost a little bit of speed on the green; probably the weather and just a little bit of rain slowed down the greens.”
Chasing his first Asian Tour title, Chikka hit the putting green as soon as his round was done, despite steady rain.
“There were a few things in putting that I wanted to iron out. I feel I have figured that out. If the conditions remain the same on Sunday, I’ll be ready,” the 29-year-old said.
Honey Baisoya made the big move of the day, leaping 46 places in the adverse conditions.
“The swirling wind, more than the rain, made it difficult to judge shots. The conditions changed every 4-5 holes, so you had to keep checking where the wind was coming from,” said the 26-year-old, who shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 (seven birdies).
Om Prakash Chouhan was tied third while SSP Chawrasia and Gaganjeet Singh Bhullar were tied 12th.