Randhawa, Bhullar still in the hunt for title at SAIL golf

February 22nd, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by admin  


Noida, Feb 22 (IANS) India’s Jyoti Randhawa and Gaganjeet Bhullar ensured a conspicuous enough place on a congested leaderboard at the end of the third day of the inaugural SAIL Open Golf 2008 presented by Jaypee Greens here Friday. The duo kept Indian hopes alive of a title triumph at the $ 400,000 Asian Tour event. On a day when wind played a big role, Randhawa rallied from a horrendous start - he was three-over after seven holes — for an even par 72, while young Bhullar, who turns 20 in April played steady and mature golf to card a three-under 69 and share fourth place with Randhawa at nine-under 207.

Up ahead Wellington-born Kiwi Mark Brown moved into sole lead with a five-under 67 that would have been a shot better but for his 17th hole bogey. But Brown enjoyed the attention as he said, “It (the windy conditions) was like home and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Brown was one shot ahead of Australian Scott Hend (69) and former British boys amateur champion, Welshman Rhys Davies (67). Scott, who played the US Tour in 2004 and 2005 before being hit by a hand injury, was fourth on the Asian Tour last year after coming through the Qualifying School.

Tied with Randhawa and Bhullar in fourth place were Malaysian Danny Chia (69) and Australian Adam Groom (69) at nine-under.

Ashok Kumar (71) in tied 12th at six-under 210 and Harinder Gupta (73) in tied 21st at four-under 212 and Dinesh Kumar (77), who dropped from overnight tied fourth to 27th at two-under 214 were the other leading Indian players.

Randhawa, who shared the lead overnight was an early victim to a combination of tiredness and strong winds as he dropped to three-over for the day after seven, but then showed his steely side as he willed himself back into contention by returning to par for the day and stayed at nine-over for the tournament.

Randhawa took time to warm again today, but this time it was not the frost like second round, but a late night with his family. “I was tired as I slept a little late last night,” said Randhawa.

“I could not concentrate early and in no time I was three shots down with a double and a bogey. But I made a great recovery from there and any time, you are two or so behind the leader it is a nice position to be in. (But) I am happy to be still in contention.”

Bhullar, who many reckon could be India’s next star in the making, played steady golf, holding his big hitting well in the face of strong winds. His 69 was built around a great eagle on the par-five 12th, where his drive rolled past 400 yards. He followed that up with a simple pitch to 20 feet, which he duly holed for the eagle, which for a time being gave him sole lead at 10-under. He dropped out of lead with a bogey on 16th, his only bad tee shot of the day.

“I am going to play my natural attacking game and not defend,” said Bhullar, who turned pro last season.

Brown, who played a lot on Australasian and Canadian Tours, before coming to Asia last year, was fifth last year at Hero Honda Indian Open and made the cut last fortnight at the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters.

Brown, who has played a lot on Australian and Canadian Tours, enjoyed the windy conditions, and said: “It was quite like Wellington in New Zealand, where I have played a lot of my golf. It is a nice course and I enjoyed myself.”

Brown loves India having finished tied fifth at the Hero Honda Indian Open last year. “I love playing in India. It is a fantastic place and right now it is great climate to play golf and India is coming up in a big way. There are going to be four big events this year.”

Davies, the former British boys amateur champion in 2003, who turned pro only in 2007, had a roller coaster of a round with seven birdies, five of which came in first seven holes, an eagle, two bogeys and a double bogey on third.

“It was a pretty up and down round. It was rather breezy and windy and the 16th and 18th were particularly tough. I just kept calm and kept going and generated a few birdies and holed a few good putts like the 20-footer on 15th (for an eagle),” said Davies, who also played the US Open at Oakmont last year but missed the cut.

Kane Webber (68) made a big move up from 23rd to eighth at eight-under 208, while Korean Noh Seung-yul (71), Singaporean Mardan Mamat (69) and veteran Wang Ter-Chang (73) completed the top-10. The three were tied for ninth at seven-under 209.

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