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Diksha lurks in 4th place as German Aline Krauter keeps lead with one day to go at Women’s Indian Open

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Gurugram, Oct 21 (IANS) Diksha Dagar salvaged her third round with a birdie-birdie finish as she carded 1-under 71 to keep her hopes alive of winning the US$ 400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

The 22-year-old, Diksha, who called her round a roller-coaster, was lying fourth but was five shots behind Germany's Aline Krauter (68), who after a fine 3-under front nine was unable to maintain that momentum.

Aline, looking at trying to make it a back-to-back win for Germany, stretched her lead from one to two shots. While it was Vani Kapoor who was second after two rounds, occupying that position after round three is Sweden’s Sara Kjellker, who has been in fine form with five top-10 finishes in last six starts. Sara recovered from a double bogey on the first to bring home a 4-under 68 and vaulted to the second place at 9-under.

Lying third was the first round leader and Sara’s close friend, Norway's Madelene Stavnar (69). Stavnar also started with a double while playing with Sara, but rebounded to shoot 69. She had 66-74 on the first two days.

Diksha had three birdies on the front nine and three on the back with two bogeys on the front and back halves of the course.

India’s top contender Diksha, who is currently fourth on the Race to Costa Del Sol, can get to the top of the Order of Merit with a finish in Top-2. Feeling she can still make some ground on Sunday, she said, “It was a roller-coaster of a round. Today, I could have definitely done better. The greens were very fast today, probably two times faster than yesterday.”

She added philosophically, “I have to accept this, this is what golf is. I'm just going to enjoy myself tomorrow. Today I had lot of lip outs and I made some silly mistakes. So it was going a lot up and down in this round for me.”

Local star Vani Kapoor, despite a disappointing 74 was tied fifth with England’s Hannah Burke (72). Without being fluent, Vani seemed to be managing alright through the front nine with two birdies against a bogey. She then lapsed into a disastrous stretch with a bogey on 10th and three bogeys in a row from 13th to 15th. She did pick a birdie on 17th, but was left seven behind the leader at 4 under after the third round.

Krauter, who is looking for a maiden win on LET, said, “It’s different being at the top. I haven’t really been in this position this year at all. I think it will be a challenge tomorrow for sure. But I’m very excited for tomorrow and I’m glad I came to India! It was a lot of fun playing out there – a lot of crowds. They were all cheering for me as well which was really nice.”

She added, “I think my ball striking was good again today, the same as the last couple of days. Nothing has really changed, didn’t make that many putts, but it was still really steady which is good on this golf course. I’m really happy with my round.”

She gave her caddie a lot of credit, adding, “My caddie has been great. He’s amazing and always a good laugh. That definitely helps and he lightens the mood a lot. He gives great numbers and great clubs as well.”

Kjellker admitted, “It was an awful start. I was two over after three holes and it could have been three over after three holes. I don’t know what happened there. Maybe it was some nerves and some pressure got to me. But then I managed to calm down and had some good yardages which I took advantage of. I had lots of birdies today which was needed for sure.”

She added, “Madelene Stavnar is one of my closest friends on Tour and I feel we’re a great team out there helping each other on the golf course. She’s definitely my little comfort blanket and I love playing with her.”

Amateur Avani Prashanth ground it out for a 72 that included five birdies, including one on 18th, against three bogeys and a double bogey.

Gaurika Bishnoi also staved off what could have been a disaster as she had five birdies against five bogeys and a double for a 74 that pushed her to T-12.

Nishtha Madan, who also plays on the Epson Tour in the US shot 68, the best among Indians on the third day, and was T-19 at 1-over for 54 holes, as was amateur Vidhatri Urs (73). Ridhima Dilawari (73) was 2-over for three days and T-25 and further behind were Khushi Khanijau (74) at T-34, Amandeep Drall (71) at T-37 and Neha Tripathi (75) at T-40.

Stavnar, who opened the week with a 66, said, “Me and Sara [Kjellker] were laughing. We both started with a double. It was probably the worst start you can have but then we both made a lot of birdies after that which was really nice. Sara is probably one of my best friends on Tour. We’re staying together this week as well so clearly just can’t get enough of each other! It will be fun playing together again tomorrow.”

--IANS

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