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Battle royal for The Hindu Open honours
September 23, 2005 17:23 IST
Defending champion Ashok Kumar missed a six-footer on the 18th for his tenth birdie of the day while SSP Chowrasia sank a 15-footer downhill birdie putt. That birdie would have put Ashok in sole lead, which he now shares with first round leader Chowrasia.
Both the pros playing an attacking game, shot rounds of 64 and 65 respectively to set up an interesting battle for title at The Hindu Open 2005, the third leg of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2005-06 season. The two were tied at 17-under 199 for the tournament after three rounds.
Overnight leader Ranjit Singh slipped to third position after submitting a card of 1-under par 71 for a 54-hole total of 203. Harinder Gupta shot a 68 to be in the fourth spot while Vijay Kumar, with a bogey on the finishing hole was fifth at 207. Pakistani No.1 Matloob Rana was sixth at 209 while Feroz Ali and C Muniyappa were tied for the seventh spot with the former shooting a 67 on Friday.
Ashok Kumar, began the day three strokes behind the leader. A sandy birdie on the opening hole paved the way for the rest of his round as he invariably found the greens, despite a couple of wayward shots, like the second where he overshot the green and yet managed a birdie. His putter also grew hotter on a day where it was easy to make a bogey. After birdies on the fourth and the par-5 sixth, the Delhi pro missed a 10-feet eagle putt on the seventh and made birdie. He also made two bogeys on the par-4 fifth where he missed a sitter for a par and on the par-3 eighth where he failed to make up and down from the right edge.
Beginning his back nine with a 10-footer birdie, he continued his march saving one more stoke on the 11th, while also saving a stroke each on three consecutive holes beginning from the 15th with calculated approach shots. Aggression was the key to his round of eight-under as he hit 13 greens and made 22 putts.
"I will go all out to defend my title and hence I have to be aggressive," said Ashok. "I am not looking for any records but I definitely need a win. It has been a long time since I have won," said the 25-year-old, whose last victory was at the Tata Open on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season.
Chowrasia after a sedate start, made only two birdies -- third and ninth -- on the front nine. The diminutive player also lost a stroke on the fifth, missing a 10-footer. However, when he realized that Ashok was closing in on him, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club pro made successive birdies 11th and 12th and saved one more stroke on the 14th. The birdie on the 12th was the best of the lot where he almost holed it from 50 yards. The 27-year-old then had a string of birdies on the last three holes to catch up with the new leader Ashok Kumar. "I tried my best but the putts just failed to drop in on my front nine," said Chowrasia. "It will be an interesting finish. I will definitely aim for the title," he added.
Meanwhile, Ranjit Singh met with mixed fortunes, making four birdies compared to three bogeys. With a two-stroke lead, Ranjit made a great up and down on the opening hole but that form was short-lived. The birdies came on the second, third, ninth and 18th while he made bogeys on the fifth, 10th and 11th. "I lost my confidence for a while. I will have to come up with a really low number," said Ranjit.
Top scores (after 54 holes) Pro: 199 Ashok Kumar (Del) (67,68, 64), SSP Chowrasia (Kol) (64,70, 65); 203 Ranjit Singh (Chd) (66, 66. 71); 206 Harinder Gupta (Chd) (69, 69, 68); 207 Vijay Kumar (Lucknow) (68, 69, 70); 209 Matloob Rana (Pak) (69, 70, 70); 210 Feroz Ali (Kol) (75, 68, 67), C Muniyappa (B'lore) (71, 69, 70); 212 Mukesh Kumar (Mhow) (74, 71, 67), Ali Sher (Del) (73, 67, 72), Gurbaaz Mann (71, 69, 72); 213 Nabin Mondal (Kol) (72, 71, 70), S Madaiah (B'lore) (72, 70, 71), Shamim Khan (Del) (71, 71, 71), Naman Dawar (72, 69, 72), Mohd. Islam (Patna) (71, 67, 75). Amateur: 219 L Selvadurai (ONGC) (73, 73, 73).