Digvijay Singh played a superb round of six-under 66 but could not stop Mukesh Kumar maintaining his lead at the end of the penultimate round in the Rs One million TNGF-KONE Open 2003, the third leg of the Hero Honda Indian Golf Tour, at the Cosmo-TNGF course on Friday.
Digvijay, with a three-day total of 14-under 202, was one stroke behind leader Mukesh Kumar, who submitted a card of three-under 69 today.
Arjun Singh returned a card of 69 to be placed third with a tally 204 while Uttam Singh Mundy was fourth with 206. Harmeet Kahlon was just a stroke behind while Indrajit Bhalotia fired a 67 to share the fifth position.
Mukesh Kumar, after two birdies on the first and fourth, registered his first bogey of the tournament going over on the par-3 eighth. A 6-iron shot landed him on the right of the green from where he duffed his second shot and two-putted for a bogey. He followed it up with yet another bogey on the very next hole. A 9-iron second shot saw Mukesh on the right rough from where he chipped to the edge and missed a five-footer for a par. However, the four-time `Champion golfer of the year' made it up with three consecutive birdies starting from the 11th.
"My putting still hasn't improved otherwise I should have been at least four strokes ahead. The final day is crucial with my opponents just behind me. I am going to go out there and play my game," said the Mhow-based pro.
Digvijay Singh began with a birdie but lost a shot on the second. Hitting his second shot with a 3-iron, he landed in the rough on the left. He had a bad lie and hence his chip went over the green. After chipping again, he missed a 5-footer to go over for that hole.
Apart from that, the lad from Meerut played flawless golf. The best of his six other birdies came on the par-5 seventh. After just about making it to the green, Digvijay sank a 30-footer for a birdie. The 31-year-old pro finished with a hat-trick of birdies.
His other under-par holes were the sixth and 14th.
"With just a stroke, I guess anything can happen. I don't have any special plans but my level of concentration goes up on the last two days. I will give it my best shot," said a confident Digvijay.
Meanwhile, Arjun Singh did not have the best of starts as he bogeyed the opening and the fifth hole. In between, he had two birdies on the second and fourth. The Delhi-based pro from Delhi Golf Course, made one more bogey on the 12th to be one-over for the day.
However, the lanky golfer made amends with a quartet of birdies on the last four holes. The birdie on the 18th was a delight. With the pin placed on top of the sloping green, Arjun's calculated second shot landed about two feet from the pin, from where he sunk a downhill putt for a birdie.
Indrajit Bhalotia and Mohammed Islam both had a card of five-under 67, which catapulted them to the sixth and ninth positions on the leaderboard respectively.
While the Adidas-sponsored pro from Kolkata shot a bogey-free round, Islam made seven birdies and three-putted twice to go over on two of the holes.
Meanwhile, in the amateur section, B Gurunath continued to lead with a total of 221. The ONGC-sponsored L Selvadurai shot a 1-over par round to be placed one stroke behind the leader B Gurunath who had a total of 221.
Scores (after 54 holes)
(Pros): 201_Mukesh Kumar (64,68, 69); 202_Digvijay Singh (67,69,66); 204_Arjun Singh (69,66,69; 206_Uttam Singh Mundy (71,65,70); 207_Harmeet Kahlon (69,68,70); 208_Indrajit Bhalotia (73,68,67), Rafiq Ali (67,71,70), Ashok Kumar (67,71,70); 210_Mohd. Islam (70,73,67); Gaurav Ghei (69,72,69); 212_Binod Pandey (68,75,69), Amritinder Singh (73,66,73), Vijay Kumar (68,71,73).
Amateurs: 221_B Gurunath (74,72,75); 222_L Selvadurai (71,78,73).