An Indian winner at the Avantha Masters seems an unlikely prospect this year after home golfers ended way off the pace following the third round of the tri-sanctioned USD 2.4 million event in Gurgaon on Saturday.
Anirban Lahiri was the best-placed Indian at tied 20th after carding an even-par 72 with a couple of birdies against an equal number of bogeys at the DLF Golf and Country Club here.
His three-day total stood at six-under 210, five strokes off the lead which was grabbed by South African Jbe Kruger with a flawless five-under 66 - studded with a couple of eagles and an equal number of birdies.
Shiv Kapur staged a late recovery to card one-under 71 for a share of the 31st spot - two strokes behind Lahiri. It was a dramatic turnaround for Kapur who staggered to three-over in his first nine holes, managing just a lone birdie against a couple of bogeys and a double bogey.
But his fortunes changed for the better on the back nine and Kapur sent down five birdies and dropped just one stroke to avoid being in the bottom half of the leaderboard. The Delhi-pro shared the 31st spot with Vijay Kumar (71) and Shamim Khan (74) among others.
The rest of the Indians in the fray endured an even tougher day with defending champion SSP Chowrasia lying sixth from bottom at tied 58th. The Kolkata pro, who is competing despite a wrist problem, went over-par for the first time this week carding a 75. That left his overall tally at two-over 218 and his title hopes in tatters.
Mukesh Kumar (75), Manav Jaini (75) and Gaurav Pratap Singh (74) were also tied for the 58th position.
Just a couple of strokes ahead of them was Jeev Milkha Singh. The Chandigarh golfer continued to find it tough to shake off his indifferent form of the past many months and turned in a disappointing 75 for a share of the 50th spot along with Vivek Bhandhari (75) among others.
In the top half of the leaderboard, overnight leader Peter Whiteford of Scotland was pushed to the second spot, which he shares with German Marcel Siem (68) and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (69). The trio is just a stroke adrift of Kruger.
Kruger, who was overnight tied 16th, is ranked 159th in the world and would be chasing his maiden European Tour title on Sunday morning.
"I am going to try to play like how I played today and if it's meant to be my week, it will be mine. So I don't want to think too far yet," said the 26-year-old.
"The putts need to go in and I think that's what defines the winner. I've been reading the greens a little bit as I've been struggling with it during the week. Mu putting has been good and if I can see the line, I am confident that my putts will go in."
"I am a lot more experienced as compared to the time when I started and I think that will give me the edge," he added.
Argentine Tano Goya and Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara turned in the best cards of the day - matching 64s - to zoom up the leaderboard at tied 11th and tied fifth respectively.