But as the round drew to a close, the protagonists still remained the same and the stage is set for a two-way battle on the final day between Vikram Rana and Rashid Khan. Rashid will go into the last round with a two-stroke lead but if the conditions remain as difficult as they were today, then we could see some changes at the top.
Rashid, who is currently placed eighth on the Order of Merit list, would be hoping to climb up a few more rungs with a hat-trick of titles on the Amateur Tour which would be a rare achievement in itself.
He got off to a dodgy start and with the wind howling on the front nine, he made the turn at two over par. “My hitting was a little off and I just did not hit enough shots near the pin unlike yesterday when I played some really good irons on to the green,” he said. Looking ahead to tomorrow, Rashid said: “As of now, it looks like it would be a fight between me and Vikram, but anything could happen on the final day.”
Vikram got off to an inauspicious start after three putting from a distance of a little over two feet on the first hole. A triple bogey on the first and a bogey on the par 5 second seemed to indicate that he would fade away, leaving Rashid lonely on top of the leaderboard.
He said: “I still don’t know what happened on the first, and I am searching for answers. Although it was a short putt, the ball lipped out on both occasions.” But he regained ground with an eagle from the centre of the fairway on the short par 4 sixth and reduced the deficit to one stroke. “I just hit a good shot there I guess. It got me back in to the round and kept me in the thick of the action,” said Vikram.
A final score of four over 76 was still not that bad, considering that he is trailing the leader by just two strokes behind and three shots clear of the next best player in the field. Abhinav Lohan was the only one who left the course without any battle wounds as he returned a card of even par 72, which helped him move up to the third spot and in to the last group for the final round.
Abhinav, who had a good outing at the Golden Greens Amateur where he was in contention for his first win on tour, fell back on the last two days. A good round today has given him another chance and he would be looking to make the most of this opportunity.
Local lad Aman Guron, who would be hoping to keep the Samarvir Sahi Amateur trophy in Chandigarh, had an off-day and slid down the leaderboard. With 18 holes left, it remains to be seen if Rashid can pocket another title on tour or whether one of the men behind can stop his run.
Scores: 1. Rashid Khan (218); 2. Vikram Rana (220); 3. Abhinav Lohan (223); 4. Angad Cheema, Karan Vasudeva (224); 6. Samresh Sardar (227); 7. Aman Guron (228); 8. Kanishk Madan, Manav Das, Pawan Kumar, Gagan Verma (229).