Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma kept the Indian challenge afloat despite falling a bit too far behind leader Danny Willett after three rounds at the Maybank Malaysian Golf Championships here today.
Lahiri (69), six behind Willett, and Shubhankar (71) seven behind, are paired together for the final round but with low scores possible at Saujana Saujana Golf & Country Club, they may have an outside chance.
They will also need to depend on some help from others ahead of them. Lahiri was Tied-9th, while Shubhankar was T-11.
Leader Willett, looking for his first victory since winning the Masters in April 2016, finished birdie-birdie to open up a nice gap of three over second placed David Lipsky.
Among other Indians, Gaganjeet Bhullar made up for some early lapses of a bogey-double bogey on sixth and seventh with four birdies on back nine in his 70 and he was Tied-12th at eight-under. Shiv Kapur (72) one-under through 17 finished with a bogey instead of a birdie, as he had one on Friday to be 7-under and Tied-16th.
Rashid Khan (70) was Tied-23rd, Chiragh Kumar (71) had contrasting first and second nines and Jyoti Randhawa slipped back with 75.
Lahiri, who was looking forward to playing with Shubhankar in the final round, said, “It’s the first time we will be playing together. He looks good.”
Despite a bunch of misses, many inside six to eight feet, Lahiri finally managed three birdies in last six holes in his 69.
“I would have liked to finished two or three shots within the lead. I am quite disappointed honestly. I could not believe how that last putt from 10-odd feet did not fall. I had the line and it rolled well, but lipped out. I played well but never got my putter going. I missed a bunch of putts on the front nine inside of five feet, possibly three or four. That really killed the momentum. The game is feeling good and if I can roll more in tomorrow, I might still have a chance,” Lahiri said.
“Then it got really windy from the middle part of the round till the end. It was important to get a really good start but I could not take advantage of that. Still it was a good grind. I fought hard and came home stronger than what I have done in the past, so that’s a positive step,” he said.
Shubhankar, 20, hung in despite things not going his way and missing a lot of makeable birdie putts. He was one-over for the front nine but holed three birdies against one bogey on the back nine for 71 that kept him the race for another nice finish after three inside Top-11 in last three weeks.
Shubhankar, still smiling after a hard day, said, “It was alright. I should have been better, but I am glad I did not let it get away totally. I missed a few putts out there, some from inside 6-8 feet. I had a three-putt on nine and some other mistakes. But I will give it a solid shot tomorrow, as low scores are possibly here.”