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Brown takes lead after Day 3

Studying the model must have reminded the lithe golfer of the tenacious display that enabled him to pull back from the brink on the penultimate day of the SAIL Open, reports Robin Bose.

other Updated: Feb 22, 2008 23:04 IST
Robin Bose

AFTER COMPLETING his day's card, Jyoti Randhawa ambled into the Clubhouse. Standing at the entrance, the weary eyes scanned the lobby before resting on the mannequin in the pro-shop. Attired in a flaming orange sleeveless sport-shirt and navy blue track pants, the dummy's resolute look and clenched fists signified a never-say-die stance.

Studying the model must have reminded the lithe golfer of the tenacious display that enabled him to pull back from the brink on the penultimate day of the SAIL Open.

A tired mind and body was always going to be a recipe for disaster and the overnight joint leader's flounder allowed competition to catch up. After making way for Mark Brown in the top slot with Scott Hend and Rhys Davies in tow, Randhawa's rearguard action can only be termed as heroic.

A double bogey on the 3rd and subsequent bogeys on the 6th and 7th left him miserable at the 15th spot with a three-over, and few gave him a chance of returning. But fighting off fatigue and the troughs, Randhawa rallied well to settle for the night at par. The result was enough to lift him to joint fourth with an overall nine-under 207.

"I did not sleep well and found it difficult to concentrate. But the recovery was good and I can call it a good 72," said Randhawa.

Another countryman to place himself within striking range of glory was Gaganjeet Bhullar, On the verge of stepping out of his teens, the youngster from Kapurthala fired an eagle on the 12th that allowed him to reign briefly with a 10-under before the inability to temper his youthful spirit in blustery conditions pulled him down to joint fourth.

"Though I had an eye on the leader board, I am not one to play defensively," said an unrepentant Bhullar. The 19-year-old's pluck has been never been in doubt as he was instrumental in India winning the team silver at the Doha Asian Games. In that hour of glory, Bhullar flew out to Malaysia to play the Qualifying School to become eligible for an Asian Tour card. Overnight, an amateur metamorphosed into a professional. If Bhullar is to cover himself with glory, another 'Great Leap Forward' is required of him on Saturday. While it was a testing day for the Indian duo, Mark Brown promised an "attack on the final day" after surging into the lead early on Friday.

It was a flawless round till the 16th when the Kiwi was sitting pretty with a 12-under card before a bogey on the penultimate hole ate into his lead.

"It's very gusty in Wellington so the wind did not pose a problem though it did affect club selection," said Brown, whose claim to fame as an amateur was upstaging Tiger Woods in the Eisenhower Cup in 1994.

Also issuing a warning was Scott Hend as he termed the day's three-under card as "nothing day". Placed joint second with Welshman Rhys Davies at 10-under, the Aussie announced, "Though the putts were not rolling and wind was a factor, I am getting into position for tomorrow."

The gauntlet has been laid down. Whether the homegrown talent is up to the challenge will unfold on the morrow.