As expected at the Delhi Golf Club, the front pages of the rankings were flooded with Indian names. But all were chasing an unheralded Thai before the final round of the DGC Open.

Coming into the event, few would have heard of Nitithorn Thippong, and with good reason. The 25-year-old had never captained an Asian Tour event before coming to Delhi, but a two-under par 70 on Saturday took the Bangkok golfer to a total of eight under and a two-stroke lead over the ‘Indian Ajeetesh Sandhu at Lodhi Course.

Not that Thippong is the only one from his country in the running. Settee Prakongvech’s 70s were enough to put him in sole possession of third place, another shot back, on a day when drop shots were more common than birdies and eagles with just 11 players over par.

Based on the pedigree and the past record, Gaganjeet Bhullar (fourth at four under) must imagine his chances. Nine victories on the Asian circuit (the most by an Indian) and local knowledge should count for something.

Thippong didn’t have everything he wanted and needed to put in a decent lap. “I just focus on my process, playing and having fun. I didn’t hit a lot of greens today, but I did a lot of ups and downs, I think I did almost all of my ups and downs,” he said.

Sandhu fell from par with a one-for-73 round, and it was an eagle on the par-five 14th hole that gave him the chance to be in the final group, sandwiched between the two Thais.

The winner of the 2017 Yeangder Tournament Players Championship fought all day to stay in the race.

“A difficult day. The wind had dropped, the course was firm. It was a very good test there today,” said the 33-year-old from Chandigarh. “I hung on today, I didn’t really have my best day. Off the tee, with the irons and with the putter, everything was pretty average. But I’m happy to still be up there and I’ll have a chance to win tomorrow, so that means a lot.

Veer Ahlawat, the halfway leader, had a disappointing day with a 78, but only five strokes behind Thippong.

Bhullar was in high spirits after finishing his third round with a birdie. “The last four to five holes were very difficult and the moment you missed the green going back and forth wasn’t easy. I’m glad I finished the round with a birdie on the 18th, he said. “On those days, it’s very important to assess the conditions at the start of the race. I played in worse conditions in Europe so I used that experience today. I kept telling myself that nobody was going to hit low scores, so just keep doing fairways and greens and keep doing ups and downs. Prakongvech was one of the few players to beat par that day. A run of two under 70s might not seem eye-catching on low-scoring days, but on Saturday it was enough for him to jump straight into the race.

“The wind was very strong today and it was changing all the time, it was tough,” he said. “In my tee holes, I had some really good tee shots, some good second shots, some good putts, so it all went well. But in the middle I missed some key shots, some holes that I missed and missed. The greens were a bit faster today and a bit hard. And also the pin positions were tricky. I wasn’t expecting much today but nobody played well.

All in all, SSP Chawrasia may seem out of place but the Kolkata pro made the most of the tough conditions in a round of three under 69. “I was actually at 4 under but missed my last hole. But anyway, three cents is a good trick today. It was very windy today and it was playing really strong. Redesigned greens play the toughest. They put together a very difficult setup. Not easily accessible,” Chawrasia said.