Anura Rohana's "tryst with destiny" may have ended on Friday, but the satisfaction on the weather-beaten face was there for all to see.
It was yet another gutsy display against a much higher ranked player and despite finishing at the wrong end of the 3&2 scoreline, universal praise for his fearlessness, a feature that forced Ashok Kumar to redraw strategy, seemed to overwhelm the simpleton. But more importantly, the semi-final loss in the SRF Matchplay Championship allowed the cash-strapped Sri Lankan some breathing space.
The absence of a domestic circuit had forced Rohana to look outwards long back and the Sri Lankan Golf Union's recent decision to end its patronage to the country's two international players, the other being BG Lalith Kumara, has made the going extremely difficult.
Desperate to chase his love, Rohana, who has a conditional card on the Asian Tour, borrowed Rs 10 lakh from a close friend to fund his Indian ventures.
"On an average, I end up spending Rs 50,000 per event. Then there is the interest (30,000 per month) to take care of. I need to earn enough here to fund my expenses on the Asian Tour," Rohana said.
If he wins the contest for the third spot, against Vivek Bhandari, worth Rs 1,60,000, the going will certainly get a little easier.
Standing on the 2nd tee of the Delhi Golf Club, money matters were farthest from Ashok's mind. Rohana's accurate putting meant the birdie on the 1st forced the fifth seed to redraw his approach.
"The ploy was to make pars and let him attack with birdies. But his exemplary iron play and putting forced me into the attacking mode as well," Ashok said.
The putter responding better, Ashok birdied the next only to trigger off a "if you can, I can do it better" race. Ashok assumed control at the turn and went on to consolidate on the back nine.
The putting was not up to the mark but riding on his form and "asking questions of his rival all the time" Rahul Ganpathy cut short Bhandari's resurgence with a 3&1 verdict.
The third seed was slow off the blocks but gathered pace from the 4th.
No pushover, Bhandari kept snapping at the heels but Ganapathy, while admitting he needed to hit the ball better, kept his head and reputation intact by keeping it in play.