India’s Arjun Atwal maintained the momentum despite a double bogey on the back nine, as he closed with a brilliant hat-trick of birdies that kept him in contention at the inaugural 3M Open golf tournament in Blaine (US) on Saturday.
Atwal shot his second straight 68 and is now 12-under and tied-ninth, three shots off the lead as the crowded leader board promises an exciting finish.
Atwal, who was fourth after the first round and sixth after the second, is now ninth after the third.
But as against a six-shot deficit against the 36-hole leader, he is now only three behind the new leaders, a young pair of Matthew Wolff (62) and Collin Morikawa (64), who played golf against each other in high school, and Bryson DeChambeau (70).
Wolff and Morikawa grew up within 30 minutes of each other in California and are in their first month as professionals. Wolff shot 62 and moved into contention. They are all at 15-under.
Meanwhile India’s other golfer, Anirban Lahiri (75) missed the 54-hole cut as he was tied 83rd.
With more than 80 players making the second round cut, a third round cut was applied and Lahiri missed it.
Atwal, 46, and playing only his fourth event in the current season and made only one cut, hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation during his third round.
Atwal had a clean two-under on his front nine and had four pars on second nine before hitting his tee shot into water on Par-4 14th and came out with a double bogey.
But he fought back superbly at the finish. He birdied from nine feet on 16th and then holed a 31-footer for birdie on 17th. On the 18th, he had a brilliant first putt from 90 feet for a one-foot tap-in birdie to finish at 68.
“That was a satisfying finish and I am not thinking about scores or finishes. I am just focusing on each shot,” said Atwal, whose last top 10 on PGA came in 2012 and his last international win was in Dubai in 2014 on the Asian Tour.
Lahiri had a very colourful scoreboard with four birdies, three bogeys, one double and one triple for a 75 that saw him exit after three rounds.
Adam Hadwin and Wyndham Clark are tied for fourth at 14-under and Hideki Matsuyama, Charles Howell III, and Troy Merritt are tied for 6th at 13-under.