Mukesh Kumar gains one-stroke lead

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Chandigarh, May 30 (UNI) Mukesh Kumar returned a card of par 72 as he enjoyed one-stroke lead at the end of 54 holes in the PGTI Players Championship at Chandigarh Golf Club here today.

His three-day aggregate is nine under 207.

Seasoned campaigners Ranjit Singh, Gaurav Ghei and Ashok Kumar were tied second at eight under 208.

Close on the heels of the top four are Vijay Kumar (seven under 209) and Harendra Gupta (six under 210).

Mukesh Kumar, a veteran of Indian golf who has won 101 professional titles so far, would be looking to add another trophy to his cabinet when he tees it up on the final day of the PGTI Players Championship.

Mukesh's third round effort of 72 was not as impressive as his first two rounds of 69 and 66 but it was still good enough to keep him in the lead.

Mukesh, a triple winner on the PGTI in the 2007-08 season, lost some ground at the beginning of his round as he bogeyed the first and third holes.

He then came back with consecutive birdies on the sixth and seventh. A double bogey followed on the par three eighth. Mukesh had a solid back nine where he gained two strokes with birdies on the 11th and 13th.

''I'm not very satisfied with my round today even though I am the leader going into the final round. I was a little shaky at the beginning with two bogeys on the first three holes.

But that's when I decided to relax and just enjoy my game.

Thereafter, I played really well and made only one error, a double bogey on the eighth.

On the eighth green I had a 20-footer for par but my putt went eight feet over,'' said Mukesh who had earlier missed a short putt for par on the first.

He added, ''It's anyone's game tomorrow as Ashok Kumar and Gaurav Ghei have the ability to produce some magic on the final day.

Besides, Ranjit Singh has the home advantage.

But I will draw confidence from the fact that I won the last PGTI event on this course about two months back. I would like to play some consistent golf tomorrow and will not attack too much.'' Ranjit Singh (65, 73, 70) currently tied second, could put up a good fight in round four, considering he fired a steady 70 today.

The Chandigarh-based professional made birdies on the second, fifth, eighth, 10th and bogeys on the seventh and 18th.

''I had a good front nine today but my back nine was disappointing.

On the back nine I missed a number of birdie chances as the putts did not fall in,'' said Ranjit.

Gaurav Ghei (69, 65, 74) and Ashok Kumar (70, 67, 71) are also tied second and are likely to challenge Mukesh Kumar for the title tomorrow.

Ghei conceded his round two lead by shooting 74 that was punctuated by birdies on the 10th and 13th and bogeys on the fourth, ninth, 14th and 15th. Ashok Kumar's 71 included birdies on the second, 13th, 18th and bogeys on the 14th and 16th.

Vijay Kumar (69, 70, 70) is one stroke behind Ranjit Singh, Gaurav Ghei and Ashok Kumar in fifth place. Harendra Gupta (70, 69, 71), another Chandigarh pro, is a further stroke behind in sixth position.

Arjun Singh, Harmeet Kahlon and Sujjan Singh are tied seventh at three under 213. C Muniyappa who produced the day's best round of four under 68 is currently tied 10th along with Rahul Ganapathy, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Gurbaaz Mann and Himmat Singh Rai (all two under 214).

Muniyappa sank birdies on the first, sixth, 13th and 17th on his way to 68. Digvijay Singh is tied 32nd at four over 220.

UNI XC JN AB BST2033

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