India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar saw his overnight four-shot lead reduced to one after battling to a third round three-over-par 74 at the Macao Open on Saturday.
Bhullar, who had led from the opening round, marked his card with four birdies against two bogeys, one double-bogey and a triple-bogey to stay ahead by a mere one shot on 10-under-par 203 total at the Macau Golf and Country Club.
The 29-year-old Bhullar is chasing for an eighth victory on the region’s premier Tour, as well as a second Macao Open title and a first win this season at the storied event.
Bhullar said after the round that it wasn’t the kind of round he wanted. “It was quite difficult out there, not the round that I wanted but there are still 18 more holes to go. I struggled a bit today. I hit the ball pretty good but not as good as I did the last two days. Overall, I think I hung in there.”
“I made a few big errors today. I had a double-bogey on the fifth and a triple-bogey on 11. Apart from that, I gave my 100 per cent and I am excited about tomorrow. Having the right mindset will be very important for me tomorrow,” he said, adding, “I am going to stay positive. I know I am driving the ball well and I am hitting the ball well. I am just expecting myself to hole a lot of putts tomorrow. The goal is to follow my routine in the process. If I am able to do that, I will be able to meet my expectations.”
“It was great playing with Ajeetesh today. We grew up together and we played a lot of junior golf when we were still amateurs back in India. It’s good to be playing with him again after a very long time. Both of us have seen each other grow as a player and we share a lot of fond memories together,” Gaganjeet Bhullar added.
Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao returned with the day’s best score of 65 to share second place with Ajeetesh Sandhu of India, who carded a 71 to keep up his chase for a third career victory in three weeks, at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.
In-form Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela signed for a 66 to stay two shots off the lead in fourth place with Filipino ace Angelo Que, who posted a 71, at the Macao Open, which is celebrating its 19th edition this week.
American Johannes Veerman and Korean Giwhan Kim shared sixth place on 208 following respective rounds of 69 and 74 while defending champion Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand bounced back with a 67 to lie a further shot back in tied-eighth position.
Ajeetesh Sandhu said that it was a pretty tough round today. “The wind was already swirling when we tee off. It was gusting a lot. The course is playing a lot harder and faster today too. I hit a lot of good shots, to be honest. I hit a lot of good shots against the wind. It was a pretty solid round. I just made a couple of mistakes which I shouldn’t have. I had some unlucky breaks too but that’s golf. Overall, I am happy with my round. It’s going to be the same again for tomorrow.”
“I am one back but that doesn’t mean much as there are still 18 holes to play. I will just play my own game and play it to my best tomorrow. Three wins in a row, it’s definitely at the back of my mind. It’s been brought up a lot this week. It will be amazing if I can do it but I won’t be thinking about that for now. I will just play my best tomorrow and see where it lands me,” he said.
Scores after round 3 of the Macao Open being played at the par 71, 6606 Yards Macau GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
203 – Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 64-65-74.
204 – HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 67-72-65, Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND) 66-67-71.
205 – Wolmer MURILLO (VEN) 67-72-66, Angelo QUE (PHI) 67-67-71.
208 – Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 69-70-69, Giwhan KIM (KOR) 64-70-74.
209 – Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 72-70-67, Arie IRAWAN (MAS) 69-70-70
210 – Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 71-72-67, John CATLIN (USA) 69-70-71.
211 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 69-71-71, Ryan MCCORMICK (USA) 69-71-71, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-67-74.
212 – Keith HORNE (RSA) 73-70-69, Gareth PADDISON (NZL) 70-69-73, Josh SALAH (USA) 69-70-73, Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) 74-71-67.
213 – Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 69-72-72, Dimitrios PAPADATOS (AUS) 73-70-70, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 72-69-72, Suttijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) 74-67-72, Scott HEND (AUS) 73-68-72.