India moved into the final of the Navision fifth SAARC golf championship with consummate ease and will meet Sri Lanka in the decider matchplay rounds on Sunday.
At the par-72 Delhi Golf Club, on Saturday, India finished on top of the five-team table with a two-day aggregate of 286 after 36 holes of strokeplay. Sri Lanka finished with a tally of 304, 11 strokes better than the third-placed Bangladesh. Nepal were fourth at 327 and Bhutan fifth at 358.
On Saturday, India had a total of two-under 142, based on the one-under 71 cards of Jaideep Patwardhan and Keshav Misra. Harinder Gupta shot a level-par 72 and had the best individual score among the players with a two-day total of one-under 143. Gupta won the Best Individual Gross trophy, while Patwardhan, who shot a one-over 73 on Friday, was the Individual Gross runner-up with a two-day score of level-par 144.
Sri Lanka owed it to BG Lalitha Kumara, who shot a two-over 74 after his 75 yesterday. Lalitha was in great form as he started eagle-birdie and then followed it up with another birdie on the fifth to be four-under at that stage. However, he failed to keep up the momentum thereafter.
The other players in the Sri Lankan team, JMD Indika Santha and M Amaraprathama, contributed 77 and 83 respectively for a team total of 151 on day two.
In the final on Sunday, starting 8:30 am, Misra will take on JMD Indika Santha, Patwardhan will be up against M Amaraprathama, while Gupta will clash with Sri Lanka's No 1 player, BG Lalitha Kumara.
Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan will be involved in a 18-hole strokeplay round to decide the second runner-up team. Mr Vikram Verma, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of India, will give away the prizes during the closing ceremony, which is scheduled for 7:00 pm.
Misra, the No 1 player in IGU's Order of Merit, struggled with his putter and missed several short putts for birdie in his round of one-under 71. "It was a frustrating day. Considering the way I hit the ball, I should have scored much better, but my putter was completely off colour today," said Misra, who made birdies on the third, fifth, eighth and 18th holes.
Patwardhan made seven straight pars before hitting his tee shot way right into the bushes for a double bogey on the par-5 eighth. Making the turn at two-over, the Pune player turned on the heat in the back nine with birdies on the 11th, 13th, 15th and 18th holes and a solitary bogey on the par-5 14th.
"I am disappointed with the way I played the par-5s. On the front nine, I just could not make any putts despite having at least five birdie opportunities from inside 10 feet," he said.
Individual scores (Day 2): 143 _ Harinder Gupta (Ind) 71,72; 144 _ Jaideep Patwardhan (Ind) 73,71; 145 _ Keshav Misra (Ind) 74,71; 149 _ BG Lalitha Kumara (SL) 75,74; 149 _ Md Siddikur Rehman (B'desh); 77,72; 158 _ CB Bhandari (Nep) 80,78; 161 _ M Amaraprathama (SL) 78,83.
Team scores: 286 _ India (144+142); 304 _ Sri Lanka (153+151); 315 _ Bangladesh (159+156); 327 _ Nepal (168+159); 358 _ Bhutan (183+175).