Digvijay Singh, fast acquiring a reputation for mounting late charges in the Hero Honda Indian Golf Tour, shot an immaculate six-under 66 to vault to joint lead along side Mukesh Kumar at the end of the third day's play of the Rs 1.6 million Dutch-Bangla Bank Open, being played at the picture-perfect Kurmitola Golf Club, in Dhaka, on Friday.
In the third 'major' tournament of the 2002-03 season of the Hero Honda Indian Golf Tour, Meerut-based Digvijay and Mhow's Mukesh were 10-under 206 after 54 holes. That gave the top two players on the Tour a three-stroke lead over Zai Kipgen, who is third at seven-under 209.
Ashok Kumar played a heroic round of two-under 70 and was fourth at five-under 211. The 21-year-old from Delhi began with a quadruple bogey and was five-over after two holes, but then displayed magnificent golf to finish the day at two-under 70.
Digvijay, winner of two titles this season and No 2 in Order of Merit, made a birdie on the second. He finally triumphed over the par-5 third hole, on which he hit an OB shot on the first day, followed up with a double bogey in the second round. Today too, he was in trouble after landing in the bunker on the left, but he came out to about two feet from the pin and made a birdie. The 30-year-old made two more birdies on the fifth and seventh.
However, the Meerut pro hit a bad tee shot on the par-4 ninth and ended up with a bogey to be three-under for the front nine.
On the back nine, Digvijay made three more birdies -- on the 10th, 14th and 16th with the first one being his best where he sank a severe right-to-left putt.
"I can't complain after such a round but I could have played better. I am not thinking of the title as yet. I just want to go out and give my best," said the Titleist-sponsored golfer.
Mukesh Kumar, leading by a stroke overnight, played it safe. His putting was exemplary as he sunk long birdies. A 30-footer on the second was the longest of the four he made on his front nine, the other birdies coming on the third, fifth and sixth. However, the 36-year-old made a double bogey on the 10th, the shortest par-3 hole. A solitary birdie on the penultimate hole left Mukesh at three-under for the day.
"It is still too early to talk about my fortunes. It can be anybody's game but I want to win here as I have finished runner-up twice before," said Mukesh.
Zai Kipgen, slowly returning to his form of yore, made six birdies in his round of five-under 67. The birdie on the par-5 seventh, a 20-footer, was the best of the lot. The only black patch in his card was the bogey on the sixth where he three-putted.
Ashok did not lose heart after being five-over in just two holes. He fired four successive birdies starting from the fourth. The leading Rookie of the Year made two successive birdies on his opening holes of his inward journey. An unbelievable birdie - a 40-footer from the edge of the green - was his shot of the day while he sunk another birdie on the 16th to retrieve his position.
Top scores (after 54 holes): 206 _ Digvijay Singh (69,71,66), Mukesh Kumar (72,65,69); 209 _ Zai Kipgen (70,72,67); 211 _ Ashok Kumar (71,70,70); 212 _ Shiv Prakash (70,74,68); 214 _ Sanjay Kumar (74,70,70), S Murthy (69,74,71), Naman Dawar (70,70,74); 215 _ SSP Chowrasia (71,72,72), Vivek Bhandari (72,69,74), Mohd. Ismail (70,69,76), Uttam Singh Mundy (68,70,77).
Amateurs: 215 _ Siddiq-ur Rahman (70,71,74); 222 _ Mohd. Sayyum (72,77,73).