Playing flawless golf, Shiv Kapur turned on the heat and carded a bogeyfree seven-under 65 to re-write the course record set less than 48 hours ago by Agustin Domingo in the first round of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge 2013 on Saturday. Holding his own under rather warm conditions, Kapur moved up to 13-under 203 and opened up a handy four-shot lead over playing Andrew McArthur (71) and five clear of Philip Archer (66).
Tim Sluiter (70), who goes down on his stomach while checking his line on the green, was lying fourth at seven-under 209. First round leader Domingo was tied fifth with three others at five-under. Mukesh Kumar (68) and Peter Uihlein, the 2010 US Amateur champion, were tied at ninth at four-under 212.
Kapur, who opened the week with a bogeyfree 67 on Thursday, has dropped only two bogeys, both in second round.
"I am not sure when I last held a four-shot lead," said Kapur, whose previous start at the end of 2012 had ended a seven-year title drought at the Shubhkamna Champions Golf, an event on the domestic PGTI Tour.
Kapur apart, it was a good day for the Indians, as Mukesh Kumar (68) moved into the top-10 at four-under and tied ninth, while Himmat Rai (68) was three-under and tied 11th up from overnight 43rd.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (73) dropped from overnight tied sixth to 15th, while Rahil Gangjee (74) slipped even further from sixth to 20th.
Even though Kapur was 13-under, scoring has not been very easy, as only 25 players are under par after three days. And only four of the 25 are seven-under or better.
Kapur, expectedly, was quite pleased with his play. "(I) can't complain, (with a) course record it's been so great so far, and I guess the conditions aren’t getting any easier out there. Today it was quite benign actually with not much wind and I think I got off t o a good start today that sort of set the tone for the whole day, made couple of putts early in my round with three birdies in my first four, and was no looking back after that."
Speaking about the action on the course, he added, "The first hole birdie was the best I should say because it is tough starting a hole and when you start with a birdie, obviously it gives you some positive momentum for the day. The third I holed a pretty long putt, around 20-25 ft, which I haven't done all week so nice pleasant change.
"The fourth was beautiful birdie I should say because I had my tee shot in the middle of the fairway but there was a tree right there and I had to cut a seven iron around the tree to a back left pin which is not the easiest shot and got about two feet so I think was the best shot of the day."
Despite it being, his play probably made it look easy, as he added, "The weather was not quite breezy though it was warm and the ball travelling a fit faster so that needed a little bit of adjustment as well. But all in all, the greens acted the same, played the same speed like the first two days, last year I found the green speed change every day, so there was lot of adjustment to be made but this year I found the green speed pretty consistent on all three days."
"The pin positions were not that easy but I think it is the lack of wind which resulted in lot of four under or five under scores. Yesterday, I think, was the toughest of all three days. But when you are playing well and shooting something like five under you don't find the pins hard. But I won't say they were easy flags, couple of them I thought were quite approachable, which they could have made a bit trickier, but you always have to do that because Saturday they like to see a lot more volatility of movement in the scoreboard and you get more friendlier pins and on Sundays they will be pretty tough where a lot of strategy comes into play."
At six under through 10 holes, he had a good shot at a real low card. "I just kept sticking to my gameplan, I don't think I hit any erroneous tee shot, hit lot of fairways and greens and I actually did made too up and down. I had a great shot in the 13th but it bounced over the back near the wall and got it up and down and in the 14th I left the second shot out of the green and Andrew (McArthur) and Tim (Sluiter) said that I will do well to get it under 10ft and I hit it to six inches. That probably kept the momentum going for the round and getting a birdie on 14 kind of kept the whole thing together. I would have liked to get one or two more in the last couple of holes."
Speaking about the final day's strategy, Kapur said, "I think I want to be in charge of my own destiny and not really leave it in the hands of my competitors so I will look to just go out there and play like the way I have played the last three days. If somebody can shoot something crazy low like 62 or 63, good luck to them. The goal will be to extend the lead, that’s the way I have approached it, not to defend the lead. I have found from past experience that if you try to defend the lead you tend to get defensive and get away from your natural gameplan. So the idea is to stay positive and stay aggressive."
McArthur was all praise for Kapur, as he said, "Shiv didn't miss a chance today and I just left too many out there but tomorrow is another day. I seemed to get really tired out there but I played good golf for the most part. Shiv just played great. He had a couple of unbelievable up and downs which kept it ticking for him."
On his own game, the 33 year old said, "I actually played really well. I definitely didn't putt as well as previous days and had three three-putts from the fringe so that was disappointing.
"I just need to get off to a quick start now, do the same as I did on the first day, when I got a few 30 footers and hit it a few stiff to the pin. You want to be within a couple going into the back nine to get amongst it. I'm not 100 per confident in my lines with the grain on the greens but I'm picking a line and going with it and if they go in they go in."