Five Indians in the top-six bracket, that too, going into the final round of a dollar-event, is a rarity.

As a result, the $300,000 Panasonic Open stands nicely poised for a strong finish for the Indian title-aspirants at the Delhi Golf Club course on Sunday.

Ashok Kumar in lead

Ashok Kumar, looking for his maiden Asian Tour title in 10 years as a professional, snatched the lead on the second hole and finished the third round with a birdie to eventually stay a stroke ahead of one-time leader Gaganjeet Bhullar.

For the record, Ashok carded a second successive three-under 69 for a tally of eight-under 208. Ashok, three-under for the day after eight holes, dropped a shot on the ninth. He played more conservatively thereafter and signed off with a final-hole birdie to retain the sole lead.

“I'm not going to think about winning the title because it is far-fetched to think ahead. I'm enjoying myself playing on this course and every part of my game seems to be fine,” said Ashok. Like Ashok, Bhullar started the day at five-under and took the lead at eight-under after the 13th hole following two birdies in succession.

However, a poor tee-shot on the par-5 14th resulted in his lone bogey for the day and made him share the lead with Ashok. Bhullar found pars on the rest of the holes.

Shankar Das, jointly in the lead with Ashok and Bhullar at one point, held the third spot. He slipped after an uncharacteristic double-bogey on the par-3 17th before picking up a shot on the final hole.

Overnight leader Bangladesh's Siddikur Rahman struggled after his putting let him down. He bogeyed thrice against two bogeys for a 73 and slipped to the joint fourth spot with three others. Defending champion and first-day leader Anirban Lahiri tumbled to the joint 25th spot following a 74.

The day's best round came from joint-fourth Digvijay Singh. He shot a 68 with five birdies, including four on the flawless back-nine.

The scores (Indians unless stated): Ashok Kumar (70, 69, 69) 208; Gaganjeet Bhullar (72, 67, 70) 209; Shankar Das (70, 69, 71) 210; Digvijay Singh (70, 73, 68), Wade Ormsby (Aus) (73, 67, 71), Manav Jaini (72, 67, 72), Siddikur Rahman (Ban) (71, 67, 73) 211; Kunal Bhasin (Aus) (71, 73, 68) 212; Ben Fox (USA) (73, 71, 69), Niall Turner (Irl) (73, 69, 71) 213. Other Indians: Raju Ali (74, 73, 69) 216; Jyoti Randhawa (71, 77, 69), Om Prakash Chouhan (71, 76, 70), Shamim Khan (72, 72, 73), S. S.P. Chowrasia (71, 72, 74), Sanjay Kumar (70, 72, 75) 217; Sujjan Singh (76, 71, 71), Vijay Kumar (73, 73, 73), Mukesh Kumar (75, 69, 74), Anirban Lahiri (69, 75, 74), Harmeet Kahlon (72, 71, 75) 218; Rashid Khan (7, 71, 73) 219; Karan Vasudeva (72, 74, 75) 221; P. Gulfam (74, 74, 74) 222; Randhir Ghotra (72, 73, 79) 224; Firoz Ali (74, 75, 77) 226.

Keywords: Panasonic Open

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