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Ashok Kumar well-placed
September 17, 2004 18:15 IST
Differential winds, hot, humid conditions could not prevent Ashok Kumar from continuing the great form he showed in his course record-breaking second round and opening a five-shot lead over Mukesh Kumar in the third round of The Hindu Open, being played at the Cosmo-TNGF Golf Course.
The Delhi-based pro, with a 54-hole aggregate of 15 under-201, is all set to win the third leg of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour. Mukesh submitted a card of 3-under 69 to trail Ashok by five strokes.
Veteran Vijay Kumar shot a brilliant 67 to share the third spot with Basad Ali and the first day leader Ranjit Singh, who carded the second best card of four-under 68 for an aggregate of 209.
Local boy Sandeep Syal retained his overnight seventh position with a 2-under par 70 today for a three-day total of 210.
Ashok Kumar, the 2003-04 Order of Merit winner, opened the day with a two-stroke lead over Bangalore based pro Rahul Ganapathy. With birdies on the first, second, fifth and sixth holes, Ashok quickly took his tally to 14-under. He birdied the par-4 tenth where the blind tee-shot proved too much for the rest of the field, before making two careless bogeys on the 11th and 14th.
On both occasions his putter let him down. "The bogies on eleventh and fourteenth were due to bad putts; I pushed the first one and read a wrong line on the second. My ball striking was perfect. I would have been better by two shots but for the two bad putts," said the 23-year-old
pro from the DLF Golf and Country Club. Ashok regrouped very quickly to birdie the short par-5 sixteenth and the signature-finishing hole.
Mukesh had a roller-coaster round where he birdied the second, sixth and seventh holes before a hasty three putt saw him drop a shot on the par-3 eighth. He went on to make back-to-back birdies on the ninth and tenth before letting go of the good work done with consecutive bogies on the thirteenth and fourteenth. A birdie on the closing eighteenth with out-of-bounds on both sides saw him turn in a card of 69 to give him a three round total of 206.
"I'm pretty upset with my round. I had some good holes but three bogies to mess things up. I do not know who was more frustrated with the three-putt on the eighth, me or my caddie. But the show must go on, and the tournament is not over till the last putt falls on the seventy-second hole tomorrow," said the ever so optimistic Mukesh from Mhow, who won the season opener and leads the current money standings on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour.
Vijay Kumar had a brilliant round with birdies on the first, second, sixth, eighth, tenth, thirteenth and sixteenth. Two bogies on the seventh and 11th saw him drop two strokes to finish with a five-under total of 67 to assume a joint third position. His shot-making today was on song and his shot game likewise.
"I am very happy with my round today. I may not be leading the tournament, but am playing in the leader group which will give me a chance to put some pressure on the top two," said the Lion from Lucknow.
L Selvadurai continued to lead the amateur field at 229. The other two amateurs who made the cut, R Prithviraj and V Darshan, were at 240 and 243 respectively.
Scores (after 54 holes): 201_Ashok Kumar (72, 62, 67); 206_Mukesh Kumar (72, 65, 69); 209_Vijay Kumar(69, 73, 67); Ranjit Singh (67, 74, 68), Basad Ali (67, 72, 70), Rahul Ganapathy (69, 67, 73); 210_Sandeep Syal (69, 71, 70): 211_Vishal Singh (67, 71, 73); 212_Shamim Khan (72, 68, 72); 213_Sanjay Kumar (71, 71, 71).
Amateurs: 229_L Selvadurai (78, 74, 77); 240_R Pritviraj (80, 81, 79); 243_V Darshan (79, 82, 82).