Kuala Lumpur: Gaganjeet Bhullar continued to sizzle at the USD 6.1 million CIMB Classic as he charged back into contention with a big move from 23rd overnight to 10th after a third round of six-under-par 65 here on Saturday. The 24-year-old Indian ended the day in equal 10th place on 11-under-par 202, tying with 14-time Major champion Tiger Woods and inaugural CIMB champion Ben Crane.
Playing his ninth week in a row, Bhullar will start the final day five shots behind joint leaders Bo Van Pelt, who shot a stunning 62, and Robert Garrigus at the Mines Resort and Golf Club. Anirban Lahiri, the other Indian in the field, shot a three-under 68 but still dropped two places to 25th, down from 23rd. Lahiri had six birdies and three bogeys.
Van Pelt flirted with golf's magical 59 as he was 11 under par through 17 holes. But he disappointingly dropped a double bogey on the 18th hole. Garrigus overcame a sluggish start by finishing with three closing birdies for a 69 and shared the lead on 16-under-par 197. South African Jbe Kruger, third on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, kept himself in the title hunt with a 69 putting him two strokes back.
Gaganjeet Bhullar continued to sizzle at the USD 6.1 million CIMB Classic as he charged back into contention with a big move.
Bhullar, winner of two Asian Tour titles this season, was in the same kind of form that saw him card 65 on first day. He peppered the flags with sharp iron play and rolled in seven birdies including four on a trot from eighth hole. His sole mistake of the day came on the 12th. "I hit the ball good and pretty close but the lucky charm was my putter. The game plan was pretty simple, I hit all 14 fairways and hit 18 greens in regulation. I told myself to keep hitting fairways and be calm and patient on the greens," said Bhullar.
"It always inspires me when you play in such big tournaments and see your name on the leaderboard. It is a good feeling and it gives you goose bumps. It's a star-studded field and everybody is trying to win." Bhullar, who wants to make a hot charge on the final day, said, "I always say golf is a funny game and anything is possible. Guys are shooting 59 and 61 so you never know. The guys on the top have won so many tournaments internationally so they know how it feels being inside the ropes."
With the heat scorching the course at the Mines Resort, Bhullar put his experience of playing in Malaysia to good use as he stayed hydrated and calm in the humidity. "You have to be careful of what you eat. You can't eat junk food in this type of weather and drink lots of water."
World number two Tiger Woods worked up the large crowds by tying for the lead briefly with an outward 30 but his challenge wilted under the Malaysian heat as he settled for a 69, dropping three bogeys and one double bogey to end the day five shots back. The American superstar made too many errors, including a tee shot into the water for a double bogey on 14 and a three putt bogey on 17.
"The back nine I made too many mistakes. I kept making bad decisions and bad swings," lamented Woods. "I'm going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow. Something similar to what Bo did. The problem with being this far back, I'm going to need help. A great round tomorrow might not win it."