What a strange situation it is, that I feel I am hitting better than even the year I won the Hero Indian Open in 2017 at this very course. Yet I am not putting even close to what I have been doing all my career.
Everyone knows that I am not a long hitter, but I have managed a lot of accuracy and it has been great. But my biggest strength was always the short game – chipping and putting. I am chipping fairly okay, though not at my best, but my putting is a long way off.
I am leaving them short, reading them wrong and by and large just not getting the hang. I had two three-putts and missed a lot from 8-10-12 feet. That is not the way to contend or do well at big events like the Hero Indian Open, an event that has been so good to me with two wins and four second places.
Everyone here has been talking about the front nine being the one for low scoring. But I have given away a bunch of shots there. I have bogeyed the second on last two days, the third on all three days and the fourth on first day and the fifth today. That is seven shots in the holes between second and fifth. The double on 14th on second day is something that can happen to a golfer, so I am just putting that aside as an aberration. Yet the other mistakes are not good for a professional golfer.
I am not very far from my game, I have been playing well, but each time I make some small errors and that the rub of the green has just not gone my way for a many weeks. All I need is a couple of good rounds and one good week for the confidence to come back.
Away from my game, it was superb to see Chikkarangappa continue his progress. He is such a talented player and I am glad he is being able to put good results together. He has won twice on PGTI and came so close in Mauritius, where we all thought he would pull it off. He has come close a few times on the Asian Tour and I think a win is due for him and is just around the corner.
He was six-under today and is now lying sixth and is five shots behind Julian Suri and Callum Shinkwin, who share the lead at 11-under. Both Suri, and earlier Scott Hend showed that all players are vulnerable on this course. Suri ran into trouble as he hit his tee shot into the hazard and then ended with a double bogey.
Shubhankar Sharma has been fighting hard and he has done well to keep going. He shot 71 and is lying 15th, but he also knows that a low round like his 64 last year or 66 on first day can see him rise to Top-5 or thereabouts. It will also boost his confidence of compiling low scores as he has done many times.
Anyway, it is crunch time on Sunday and an Indian contending is always great for Indian golf.