Bengaluru's M Dharma put himself in position for a second title as his seven-under 63 handed him a one-shot lead after the third round of the Rs. 1 crore CG Open golf tournament here today. Dharma's total score read 11-under-199 at the end of the penultimate round at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC).
Delhi's Ashok Kumar (69-69-62) and Vijay Kumar (70-68-62) of Lucknow shot the week's joint best scores of eight-under 62 to be one stroke adrift of the leader in tied second at 10-under-200. The week is crucial for both golfers to ensure their cards as Ashok lies 49th in the money list while Vijay is outside the top-60 in 88th place.
Round one leader Udayan Mane of Bengaluru was at fourth place at nine-under-201, thanks to his third round of 66.
Four players, the Chandigarh duo of Ajeetesh Sandhu and Sujjan Singh, Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and round two joint leader Mandeo Singh Pathania of Greater Noida were bunched together in tied fifth at eight-under-202. Ajeetesh Sandhu also shot the week's best of 62 courtesy a chip-in eagle, seven birdies and a bogey.
Chandigarh's Abhijit Singh Chadha, the overnight joint leader, slipped to tied 22nd at three-under 207 after his third round of 74. Dharma (69-67-63), who started the day in tied 11th, scored eight birdies and a solitary bogey.
The 29-year-old, who won his first and only title so far, two years back in Jamshedpur, was off to a flying start today with birdies on the first two holes. He found the fringe in two shots on the par-5 1st to set up birdie before sinking a 20-footer on the second.
Dharma collected four more birdies on the front-nine after landing his short-irons within two feet on the fourth, fifth and ninth and within five-feet on the eighth. The Bangalorean's progress slowed down as he missed a short birdie putt on the 10th and then found the trees on the 14th to drop his first shot of the day.
But Dharma, whose season's best finish was fifth place in Digboi in November, rallied with a 10-feet birdie putt on the 15th and a closing birdie on the 18th for his best score of the week.