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Vijay Kumar snatches lead on exciting day
September 09, 2005 17:29 IST
The Rs 10-lakh Hyundai-TNGF Open 2005 reached an exciting phase as the lead changed hands on the third consecutive day at the Cosmo-TNGF Golf Course in Chennai on Friday.
Lucknow pro Vijay Kumar had a dream front nine birdying six of them to submit a card of 6-under par 66, to nose ahead with a three-day total of 17-under par 199.
Mukesh Kumar was hot on Vijay's heels, returning with a similar card but with a 54-hole total of 200. Overnight leader SSP Chowrasia found the going tough but still stayed in the hunt with a third round total of 201. Veteran Shiv Prakash was in fourth position after logging a five-under 67 for a total of 203. Shamim Khan was fifth at 204 while Vishal Singh was tied for sixth place along with Harinder Gupta.
Vijay Kumar has always shown a penchant for the Cosmo-TNGF Course. He proved that with another superb show today. Beginning the day, two strokes behind the leader, Vijay played like a man possessed as he made three successive birdies on the opening holes and took the lead as overnight leader SSP Chowrasia hit `Out of Bounds' on the second hole, slicing his drive and finally ended up with a bogey.
In between, the stocky golfer made two more consecutive birdies on the sixth and seventh and signed off his forward journey by saving a stroke, thus taking the turn at six-under. Vijay then took it easy on the back nine as Mukesh Kumar staged a fine comeback making three birdies in four holes as Vijay bogeyed the par-3 13th. The lead was cut to just a stroke. However, both the experienced players fought neck to neck as Vijay chipped in on the par-3 17th for a birdie, which put him two strokes ahead of Mukesh.
However, on the finishing hole, Vijay's drive was on the left and he had to chip out before reaching the green. Missing a 12-footer, he had to settle for a bogey and thus lost the two-stroke advantage.
"The course is playing really well. I just wanted to play my natural game and did not go for the attack. I just wanted to be safe and in turn I ended up with birdies, which is good," said Vijay. "One stroke is not a great lead, anything can happen on the morrow," he added after having hit 16 greens-in-regulation.
Meanwhile, Mukesh Kumar after birdies on the second, fourth, sixth and seventh and a bogey on the ninth, kept himself in the hunt, and with birdies on the 10th, 13th and 14th bridged the gap but had to succumb to Vijay's superb short game. A birdie on the 16th was evened out with a bogey on the 17th.
"I had a tough time with my putting today," said Mukesh, who made 27 putts for the day.
Chowrasia, after a birdie on the opening hole, suffered a setback on the second. With a cautious approach, the diminutive player added three more birdies as compared to a bogey and finished with two-under for the day.
"The bogey on the 14th cost me a lot. Despite being in the fairway, I was not able to save par," said Chowrasia.
With just a stroke separating between the first three players, it will surely seems be an exciting affair to watch.
Top scores (After 54 holes) Pros: 1. Vijay Kumar (Lucknow) (68, 65, 66) 199; 2. Mukesh Kumar (Mhow) (68, 66, 66) 200; 3. SSP Chowrasia (Kol) (67, 64, 70) 201; 4. Shiv Prakash (Kanpur) (68, 68, 67) 203; 5. Shamim Khan (Del) (68, 68, 68) 204; 6. Vishal Singh (Jaipur) (67, 70, 68), Harinder Gupta (Chd) (69, 66, 70) 205; 8. Yusuf Ali (Kol) (69, 71, 68), Amardip Malik (Chd) (69, 70, 69) 208; 10. Pappan (Del) (68, 68, 73) 209; 11. Jumman (71, 71, 69), Rahul Ganapathy (B'lore) (68, 74, 69), Jaiveer Virk (Del) (70, 69, 72) 211.
Amateurs: 1. Karun Alaganan (Chen) (80, 78, 86) 245; 2. N Nandakumar (Chen) (80, 79,91) 249; 3. Gaurav Syal (86, 81, 83) 250.