Greater Noida, March 16 (IANS) Thomas Aiken, who chose golf ahead of cricket and tennis because it offered better scenery, could enjoy it even more Sunday as he grabbed a three-shot lead Saturday in the Avantha Masters at the Jaypee Greens Resort.
His three-shot lead in a tournament that has been very tight thus, indicated that the lovely Avantha Masters could once again be headed to South Africa for the second year running, taking over from Jbe Kruger, who missed the cut Friday.
Aiken, a competent fast bowler at the provincial level, was also proficient in tennis in his mid-teens. He finally opted for golf and is now beginning to reap the benefits of the sport, besides enjoying the sights it brings with it.
Firing eight birdies and an eagle in a stunning 10-under round, bettered only by the 61 on first day Chinnarat Phadungsil, Aiken is now 18-under and three clear of the overnight co-leader Liang Wen-chong ((69).
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, playing two groups ahead of Aiken also had a 30 for front nine like the South African, but he managed only a 36 with one eagle and two bogeys on back nine, while Aiken shot 32.
Kiradech, whose only win on Asian Tour, came at SAIL Open in 2011, is now tied third with David Drysdale (68) at 14-under while big-hitting Scott Hend (68) was tied fifth with Joonas Granberg (69) and Tommy Fleetwood (69) at 13-under.
Gaganjeet Bhullar moved up to tied eighth as the top Indian following a flawless five-under 67 that brought him to 12-under for the week, six behind Aiken. Bhullar, who had 17 greens admitted his round was better today but felt he need to putt better to further move up.
Jeev Milkha Singh with six birdies and three bogeys shot 69 and was tied 17th at 10-under. Anirban Lahiri (70) and Rahil Gangjee (72) were tied 23rd at nine-under, while Jyoti Randhawa (68) showed glimpses of his old form and moved to eight-under in tied 32nd.
Abhijit Chadha was unable to conjure up the same magic as first two days and dropped four shots in last five holes and ended with a 74 that saw him drop to tied 37th, alongside Himmat Rai (68), Ashok Kumar (70) at seven-under. Manav Jaini (69) was tied 45th at six-under.