Ashok Kumar carded a six-under par 64 for the second day running to widen the lead over nearest rival Gaganjeet Bhullar on the penultimate day of the Rs 70-lakh Crompton Greaves Golf Open on Saturday.
The 25-year-old Delhi-based golfer led the field in the richest prize money tournament in the PGTI calendar with a three-round total of 15-under-par 195 at the par-70 Bombay Presidency Golf Club course.
In second place, eight strokes behind the sole leader was Gaganjeet Bhullar, who returned a par-70 card for an overall 54-hole aggregate of seven under par 203 in the 72-hole stroke-play event.
Consistent Shamim Khan was a further two strokes behind Bhullar with five-under-par 205 after carding a 68 in the third round of 18 holes.
Sri Lanka's B G Lalith Kumara carded a three-under-par 67 after two rounds of 70 and was lying fourth at 207, a stroke ahead of Uttam Singh Mundy, Digvijay Singh and Amardip Sinh Malik who were joint fifth at two-under-par 208.
But the day clearly belonged to Ashok Kumar, who is currently leading the PGTI Order of Merit with earnings of Rs 27.18 lakh.
But a bogey on the par-four seventh hole, where he found the right greenside bunker with his second shot and missed a short putt for par, saw Ashok Kumar make the turn at three-under.
However, he bounced back in style with a string of birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th holes. A dropped a shot on the par-three 17th before a birdie on the last saw him return a second successive card of 64.
"I am very happy with my hitting and I believe in myself, which is what is helping me to play so well. I plan to repeat the same game plan tomorrow," said Ashok, who looked all set to snatch his fourth title of the season.
In contrast his closest rival Bhullar had a frustrating day. "I made four birdies and four bogeys and could do not better than par. I hit everything left today and missed four short putts -- from within seven to eight feet," Bhullar said ruefully.
Bhullar's round consisted of birdies on the fifth, seventh, 16th and 18th holes and bogeys on the third, sixth, eighth and 17th holes.
Scores (After 54 holes): 195 - Ashok Kumar (67, 64, 64); 203 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (64, 69, 70); 205 - Shamim Khan (70, 67, 68); 207 - B G Lalith Kumara (70, 70, 67); 208 Uttam Singh Mundy (68, 68, 72), Amardip Sinh Malik (70, 67, 71), Digvijay Singh (70, 71, 67); 210 - Yusuf Ali (66, 70, 74), Mukesh Kumar (65, 74, 71), Vijay Kumar (64, 76, 70).