One of India's best junior golfers ran a neck and neck race against a two-time India No. 1 amateur in quest for supremacy at the Royal Challenge South, being played at the par-70, Bangalore Golf Club.
Aditya Singh, playing his first season on the Royal Challenge Indian Golf Tour, fired a one-over 71 to tie in a mid-way lead with Manav Das at level-par 140. Manav shot a two-over 72.
Also grabbing a share of the limelight was Moin-ud-din Malak, who aced the third hole for the first hole-in-one of his career. Malak, whose seven iron tee shot saw the ball bounce once before finding the heart of the cup, however missed the cut. The cut was applied at 16-over 156 with 44 golfers making it to the deciding rounds.
Meanwhile, overnight leader Amardip Singh Malik shot a four-over 74 to slip to third position at one stroke behind the leaders. The duo of AS Lehal and Joseph Chakola were tied fourth at three-over 143.
Aditya Singh has the best of both worlds, in the sense that the 17-year old is still eligible to compete on the IGU Junior circuit. While keeping that privilege, Aditya also chose this season to compete on the amateur circuit.
Judging by his performances, he apparently knows what he is doing. Golf is all about mental strength and being able to bounce back from almost anywhere. This Aditya showcased and how!
A tenth tee starter, the Delhi-based Aditya received an early set-back in the form of a triple bogey on only his second hole. On the par-4 11th, the youngster failed to find the green in regulation and then went past the pin thrice to shoot a seven. This was followed by a bogey on the 13th, where the golfer missed a four feet par putt. Any cheer brought by his first birdie of the day on the 15th was almost immediately dispelled by a bogey on the following hole.
"It was pretty depressing but I knew it was an off day and tried from that point to play for par," was what Aditya had to say. The back nine saw a totally different golfer. Aditya, after three pared holes, hit his approach shot three feet from the pin to birdie the fourth.
"That birdie brought back all my confidence," he said, and true enough, the Junior Tour star posted two more birdies on the sixth and seventh (a 20 feet left to right putt) and finished his round in style with a ten feet effort for par on the ninth.
Manav Das, another tenth tee starter faced a similar start to that of Aditya's. The Ambala-based golfer started his round with a bogey, following it up with a double on the 11th.
"On the opening hole, I missed a ten fee par putt and then was all over the place on the next hole before three putting on the green," he said. "I have played way too long to get unfazed by such things," said Manav, who decided from that point to take it shot by shot. This attitude paid and the golfer birdied the 13th and 14th. On his return journey however, Manav dropped two more shots on the fifth and sixth but redeemed himself to an extent with a birdie on the seventh for a card of 72.
The Oil India employee, who has a fabulous record in amateur golf, with two Merit List wins in the last three seasons, will now have to overcome the challenge posed by two of the country's most promising youngsters, Aditya and Amardip.
SCORES (after 36 holes): 140 Aditya Singh(69,71), Manav Das(68,72); 141 Amardip Malik(67,74); 143 AS Lehal(72,71), Joseph Chakola(71,72); 144 Karanjeet Singh(75,69), Gaganjeet Bhullar(74,70),Gagan Verma(73,71), Mandeo Pathania(71,73); 145 Anitya Chand(72,73), Simarjeet Singh(71,74), Selvadurai(71,74), Jaideep Patwardhan(71,74), Manav Jaini(70,75).