The haze that the National Capital Region woke up to on Saturday made for some interesting weekend conversation at the Jaypee Greens. The visibility down to a few metres and some of the players reluctant to venture out of the clubhouse following complaints of watery eyes, the organisers were forced to postpone the tee-off.
In the absence of action, rumour mills worked overtime. One of the tales to do the rounds was that smoke from the Indian Oil Corporation’s depot in Jaipur, that caught fire last week, had enveloped the region and venturing out could be dangerous. Another account spoke of a Pakistani conspiracy to disrupt life in the national Capital, while a different version attributed it to vehicular pollution.
Whatever may have been the case, proceedings finally got underway at 1.30 p.m., a delay of almost six hours.
For Anirban Lahiri, it was revisiting last year’s BILT Open again.
A year on the Asian Tour may have got him accustomed to weather delays, but as he stood with closed eyes near the first tee, soaking in the words of hypnotist Pradeep Aggarwal, a part of him would have focussed on Ben Hogan’s words: The only thing a golfer needs is more daylight.
A little more than two hours at their disposal, there was no way the leader group could have finished, but over the front nine, Lahiri announced the intent of tightening his grip over the trophy.
Birdies on the 2nd, 8th and an eagle on the 4th meant he was 17-under after 45 holes, the lead up to five shots. The endeavour to rule out a “yesterday once more” kind of a phenomenon was well thought out.
Compared to last year, when he played 20 holes, Lahiri will have nine more holes to contend with on Sunday.
“Though a strong position to be in, it will be a long day tomorrow and the need is to remain calm and positive,” said Lahiri while throwing a glance at the silhouette of the tournament office.
“Doctor” to his ilk, because of his parents’ profession, Naman Dawar made a strong charge with a five-under to be 12-under after 47 holes. “If yesterday my hitting was good, the putting stood out today,” said the burly Delhi golfer, who started the day at sole seventh.
He now shares the second spot with Himmat, who was three-under when play ended.