Jha sets up title clash with Shohel at LG All-India Amateur golf

February 21st, 2009 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 21 (IANS) Abhishek Jha stayed on course to clinch his third straight win of the season and complete a miraculous turnaround at the LG All-India Amateur Golf Championship that is being played at the par-72 Royal Calcutta Golf Club here Saturday.
Starting with a dismal 83 in the first stroke-play round and after almost getting knocked out in the first match-play round, Jha has marched ahead and would be looking to go one better this time around after falling at the final hurdle in the last edition of the tournament.

But before Jha can entertain thoughts of another win this season on the LG Amateur Tour, he would have to get past Bangladesh’s Shakhawa Shohel, who put on a fine display today, beating Manav Das 6 & 4.

In the first semi-finals, the putter deserted Akshay Butta. He started with a bogey on the first and although a fine tee shot on the par-3 second evened out things, he never showed the kind of form that helped him get past 15-year-old Ashbeer Saini in the quarter-finals.

The 22-year-old from Bangalore looked in complete control of his game despite the vociferous crowd support for local lad Butta.

“I always knew I was going to be up against it because Akshay has played really well through the tournament. But the good thing was that he never got ahead of me in this match and on the back-nine I made some very good putts at the right moment to win the tie with a couple of holes left,” he said.

On the 15th needing to half the hole, Jha hit his ball out of bounds and memories of 2007 came flooding back.

“Back in the All-India in 2007 I was 5-up against Akshay after 12 holes and I lost the tie in a playoff. When I pulled the ball from the right rough on the 15th, I couldn’t help but think about that. Thankfully history didn’t repeat itself,” he said.

In the other semi-finals, which was expected to be a close affair, Shohel stamped his authority all over the match and never gave Manav a chance. He was 4-up after eight holes before Manav won his first hole on the par-4th ninth.

Shohel did not let his guard down and came right back with an eagle on the 10th as his second shot from the middle of the fairway landed short of the pin and climbed into the hole. A poor tee-shot from Manav on the 14th brought the curtains down on his hopes of winning the All-India for the second time.

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