Rahil Gangjee is Tied-2nd; Ajeetesh Tied-7th in Japan
Osaka, Apr 21 (PTI) Indian golfer Rahil Gangjee shot three-under 69 to lie tied second after the third round of the Panasonic Open Golf Championship here today.
Gangjee, who is trying to win his second Asian Tour win, 14 years after his first in 2004 in China, was one behind Korea's Hyungsung Kim, who birdied the 18th and final hole to go to the top of the leaderboard.
Kim's three-day total of 12-under-par 201 gave him a slender shot lead over Gangjee, at the Ibaraki Country Club at the USD 1.37 million event co-sanctioned by Asian and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
Among other Indians in fray, Arjun Atwal had a superb round with four birdies, an eagle and a double bogey in his five-under 66. Along with 73-69 on first two days, he is now six-under and Tied-14th.
SSP Chawrasia also had a fine third round of 67 and he is now five-under and Tied-21st and Shiv Kapur (68), who won the Panasonic Open event in Delhi, is T-34.
Gangjee, who has been winless on the Asian Tour since 2004, fired his first salvo with two opening birdies. He dropped a shot on six but recovered well with another pair of birdies on eight and nine.
The 39-year-old Gangjee is aware of the pressures on the final day. But he is hoping he can continue to stay focused and make the long awaited return to the winner's circle.
Gangjee said, The last six holes were really not up to my expectations but I'll take this score anything. The winds got up in the back-nine and started swirling on a few holes. That put me in a lot of spots on a few holes. It was definitely a factor.
It was fun playing with Shingo as there was a large crowd following us. It's nice not only to be playing with a superstar over here but to have the crowd cheering you regardless of whether you're a Japanese or not.
"I'll definitely feel a little bit of pressure tomorrow. It has been a while since I won and I really want to do well. I've been putting my head down and practicing more. That has basically made the difference this week, he added.
Veteran star Shingo Katayama of Japan returned with a 70 to take third place at 9-under. Korean-American Sihwan Kim still stands an outside chance of winning the Panasonic Swing series when he signed for a 68 to share fourth place with overnight leader Rikuya Hoshino of Japan and Korea's Junggon Hwang at 8-under.
India's Ajeetesh Sandhu, who was among the seven players at 7-under, also remained in contention for his second Asian Tour win after he carded a 68 which gave him a share of seventh place at seven-under that also included Yuta Ikeda of Japan and Philippines' Miguel Tabuena.
I was a little disappointed as I three-putted 17 and didn't birdie 18. I could have been nine-under easily but there's still one more day to go. I just want to play my own game like what I usually do and there's 18 more holes to play," Sandhu said.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge tomorrow. I really enjoy playing in Japan as the conditions are absolutely perfect here. I relish the challenges here especially since I've also won once on the challenge Tour over here