Gurugram, Feb 25 (IANS) Marcel Siem, who last won on the Tour almost ten years ago, is trying to remember that feeling, while Yannik Paul, who finished second only last week is trying to make amends for the close miss as the duo gun for a win at the 2 million US dollar Indian Open here at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
As Paul walked off the course after completing his round, he gave Siem a huge smile and a high five, knowing they were on the verge of a milestone.
The two Germans, who are vying to be the first from their country to win the Indian Open and are separated by just one shot.
Paul (71) was 11-under and Siem with a 67 became only the second player this week to get to double digits under par at 10-under. Joost Luiten, with an eventful 68 that included seven birdies against three bogeys, was lurking not too far behind at 8-under for 54 holes.
Not wanting to be left out was India’s top man, Veer Ahlawat (68) who was tied with last week’s winner, Thorbjorn Olesen (66) who hit a bogey-free 66 with five birdies on the tougher back nine at the DLF Golf and Country Club. Tied with them was Spaniard Jorge Campillo (67).
Ahlawat was brilliant with five birdies in the first 10 holes after which the birdies ran out and he also bogeyed 14th to finish with 68.
Tied at seventh at 4-under were Japan’s Masters-bound Kazuki Higa (71), Spain’s Angel Hidalgo (67) and India’s Angad Cheema (73), whose fortunes ebbed and flowed through the day with four birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey.
Jazz Janewattananond (71) and Honey Baisoya (73) at a total of 3-under completed the Top-10.
Paul, who won his first Tour title in Mallorca Open last October, kept his nose ahead despite a rough start that saw him bogey the second and third holes.
Yet he shrugged aside any disappointment and made up with a hat-trick of birdies from sixth to eighth. On the less rocky back nine, he had one birdie and bogey and played out a round of 71.
Paul looked ahead at Sunday and said, “With a five-shot lead, I knew there were still 36 holes to go. I obviously didn’t get off to the best start but I just tried to focus on myself. There’s so much golf yet. I just tried to stay patient. I know on this course you’re going to get some bad breaks here and there.
I had a few nice birdies and then played pretty solid on the back nine. Hit a couple of great putts but they just seemed to slip by. I’m in a great position and I’m looking forward to playing with Marcel tomorrow.”
“Getting the win would be amazing. Such an iconic event here but I think that’s the hard part. You don’t want to think ahead, you want to stay in the present because 18 holes is a lot of golf left,” he added.
Siem, whose last Tour victory was the BMW Masters in 2014, did win on the Challenge Tour in 2021 but admitted it had been so long back since he won on the main Tour that he was trying to remember things he did.
“I get the shivers already, just thinking about [winning]. Yannik is a very good player, very steady, he’s a tough guy to beat. I’m not thinking about it. Last three holes down the stretch, that’s where it matters. I’m just trying to do what I do, but it would mean a lot to me, trust me. It would be a life-changer, but let’s talk about that tomorrow,” Siem said.
Luiten may well have been there with Siem and just one behind Paul, but for back-to-back bogeys on 16th and 17th.
“I played well. Four under is a good score but I definitely made a couple of mistakes which I thought were unnecessary but that’s this golf course. I’m in the right position, a nice position, for tomorrow. I need to play good golf, then we’ll see. But winning on this Tour is always special,” he said.
Olesen was very happy with his bogey-free round and said,”This is a very demanding golf course from the tee and also some big greens with big slopes. You’ve got to be on your game but I felt like I had some confidence coming into this week. I feel like I’ve not really done anything wrong over the first three days, been good off the tee and given myself a lot of chances, which is really nice around this place.”
No bogeys are really nice around here. I felt like I played pretty nicely the first two days. Could have made silly mistakes but I didn’t make any mistakes today, which was really nice to see.”