Shubhankar Sharma carded an improved three-under 67 to emerge as the best-placed Indian at Tied-12th after the third round of the HONMA Hong Kong Open here on Saturday.
Sharma (69, 68) took his three day total to six-under 204 at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
England’s Aaron Rai, whose mother is of Kenyan origin, extended his overnight advantage from four to six shots by signing for a third round two-under-par 68.
The 23-year-old traded four birdies against two bogeys to compile a three-day total of 16-under-par 194, a score which comfortably kept his compatriots Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick at bay.
Sharma had five birdies, three of them in a row from 11th to 13th and he also had two bogeys during the day.
With Korea’s Sanghyun Park making his early exit from the tournament, Sharma could extend his merit lead when he returned with a 67 to share 12th place while close rival, Justin Harding of South Africa fired a 67 for tied-20th place.
The next best Indian is veteran Arjun Atwal (68) at T-30th at 3-under 207, while Shiv Kapur (67) moved up to T-34 and Ajeetesh Sandhu (70) is also T-34.
Khalin Joshi (73) and Viraj Madappa (71), who have both won their maiden titles this season, are Tied-68th.
Fleetwood signed for a 66 while Fitzpatrick returned with a 68 to share second place on 200 total while Spain’s Sergio Garcia signed for the day’s lowest score, posting a 64 to take tied-fourth place with Australia’s Jason Scrivener.
Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee showed he still can match up against the best players from Asia and Europe despite recently turning 49.
The three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion signed for a 66 to tie France’s Victor Perez for sixth place.
Rai has won three times on the Challenge Tour and is seeking his first win on the main European Tour this week. He broke the course record at the HONMA Hong Kong Open with a second round 61.
When Rai won the Kenya Open last year, his Kenya-born mother tearfully embraced him on the green. This was the first time his mother had returned to the country of her birth since she left it in 1970.