India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar saw his overnight four-shot lead reduced to one after battling to a third round three-over-par 74 at the Macao Open on Saturday.
Bhullar, who had led from the opening round, marked his card with four birdies against two bogeys, one double-bogey and a triple-bogey to stay ahead by a mere one shot on 10-under-par 203 total at the Macau Golf and Country Club.
The 29-year-old Bhullar is chasing for an eighth victory on the region’s premier Tour, as well as a second Macao Open title and a first win this season at the storied event.
Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao returned with the day’s best score of 65 to share second place with Ajeetesh Sandhu of India, who carded a 71 to keep up his chase for a third career victory in three weeks, at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.
In-form Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela signed for a 66 to stay two shots off the lead in fourth place with Filipino ace Angelo Que, who posted a 71, at the Macao Open, which is celebrating its 19th edition this week.
American Johannes Veerman and Korean Giwhan Kim shared sixth place on 208 following respective rounds of 69 and 74 while defending champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand bounced back with a 67 to lie a further shot back in tied-eighth position.
Did you know?
- Bhullar held the 54-hole lead for the second time at the Macao Open. The last time he held the third-round lead was in 2012, where he went on to seal a wire-to-wire victory. He had led by one with 18 holes to play in 2012.
- Out of his seven Asian Tour wins, Bhullar had claimed two impressive start-to-finish victories – 2012 Macao Open and 2013 Indonesia Open.
- The 29-year-old Bhullar bounced back from a wrist injury, which he incurred in 2014, by winning the 2016 Shinhan Donghae Open. He went on to clinch his second title of the season two months later at the Indonesia Open.
- 2016 was the second year that Bhullar won twice in a single season in his career. He last achieved that feat in 2012, the same year when he won the Macao Open.
- Sandhu won his maiden Asian Tour title at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in Chinese Taipei, just a day before turning 29. He followed up that victory with another play-off win at the Taiheiyo Club Challenge Tournament on the Japan Challenge Tour last week.
- Sandhu is playing in his third attempt and the first since 2014 at the Macao Open. He has never missed the halfway cut at the storied event.
- The 25-year-old Hung is chasing for a maiden win on the region’s premier Tour. He has enjoyed two top-10 results so far this season.
- Hung’s best result at the Macao Open was a tied-13th place finish in 2013.
- Murillo claimed his breakthrough win on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in Bali last week.
Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) – Third Round 74 (+3), Total 203 (-10)
It was quite difficult out there, not the round that I wanted but there are still 18 more holes to go. I struggled a bit today. I hit the ball pretty good but not as good as I did the last two days. Overall, I think I hung in there.
I made a few big errors today. I had a double-bogey on the fifth and a triple-bogey on 11. Apart from that, I gave my 100 per cent and I am excited about tomorrow. Having the right mindset will be very important for me tomorrow.
I am going to stay positive. I know I am driving the ball well and I am hitting the ball well. I am just expecting myself to hole a lot of putts tomorrow. The goal is to follow my routine in the process. If I am able to do that, I will be able to meet my expectations.
It was great playing with Ajeetesh today. We grew up together and we played a lot of junior golf when we were still amateurs back in India. It’s good to be playing with him again after a very long time. Both of us have seen each other grow as a player and we share a lot of fond memories together.
Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) – Third Round 71 (-1), Total 204 (-9)
It was a pretty tough round today. The wind was already swirling when we tee off. It was gusting a lot. The course is playing a lot harder and faster today too. I hit a lot of good shots, to be honest. I hit a lot of good shots against the wind.
It was a pretty solid round. I just made a couple of mistakes which I shouldn’t have. I had some unlucky breaks too but that’s golf. Overall, I am happy with my round. It’s going to be the same again for tomorrow.
I am one back but that doesn’t mean much as there are still 18 holes to play. I will just play my own game and play it to my best tomorrow. Three wins in a row, it’s definitely at the back of my mind. It’s been brought up a lot this week.
It will be amazing if I can do it but I won’t be thinking about that for now. I will just play my best tomorrow and see where it lands me.
HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) – Third Round 65 (-6), Total 204 (-9)
The game feels much better compared to the last two rounds. I have been driving the ball well this week but today, my iron-play was much better, especially on the back nine. I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies.
I think my sharp iron-play was the key for me today. It was still as windy as the last two rounds today. I am pretty familiar with this golf course and I am used to playing in this kind of windy conditions as this is what we always get back home in Chinese Taipei.
I guess that was an advantage for me. I am not as wary of the windy conditions as some other players. I putted well today too. I had two long putts on the eighth and ninth holes. I made both from about 30 to 35 feet. I think I am luckier today.
Scores after round 3 of the Macao Open being played at the par 71, 6606 Yards Macau GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
203 – Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 64-65-74.
204 – HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 67-72-65, Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 66-67-71.
205 – Wolmer MURILLO (VEN) 67-72-66, Angelo QUE (PHI) 67-67-71.
208 – Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 69-70-69, Giwhan KIM (KOR) 64-70-74.
209 – Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 72-70-67, Arie IRAWAN (MAS) 69-70-70
210 – Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 71-72-67, John CATLIN (USA) 69-70-71.
211 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 69-71-71, Ryan MCCORMICK (USA) 69-71-71, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-67-74.
212 – Keith HORNE (RSA) 73-70-69, Gareth PADDISON (NZL) 70-69-73, Josh SALAH (USA) 69-70-73, Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) 74-71-67.
213 – Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 69-72-72, Dimitrios PAPADATOS (AUS) 73-70-70, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 72-69-72, Suttijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) 74-67-72, Scott HEND (AUS) 73-68-72.