Jyoti Randhawa’s round on Saturday highlighted the adage: Golf is like life in a lot of ways, all the biggest wounds are self-inflicted. Starting the penultimate day of the DLF Masters three strokes shy of the summit, aggression was the way forward for the defending champion and he went about executing the plan with clockwork precision at the DLF Golf & Country Club.
Four birdies under the belt when he made the turn, Jyoti sent the ball rolling from the right rough to a distance of 125 yards for an eagle. If that wasn’t proof of his intent, a birdie on the next left little doubt that the man was distinctly uncomfortable with the gap between him and overnight leader Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Armed with a two-stroke lead by now, par on the 12th was the least he expected but the tee shot found a tree on the left and went out of bounds. “I should have had par, the double (bogey) changed my round,” he said.
Though a birdie happened, irritation lingered and bogey on the 15th was an indication. “I was trying to get cute with the shot,” was all he offered by way of explanation. Par on the remaining three worked towards assuaging the disappointment and a 67 for the day (overall 10-under 206) served the objective of being within sniffing distance of the title.
Anxiety did not spare Bhullar either. Not only did he fail to add to the overnight one-stroke lead, struggle with his swing on the tees and several missed putts, close ones at that, left a creased forehead. “I hit the ball much closer yesterday and besides, some of the pins were tougher today,” he said.
In contrast to his flashy contender, Bhullar’s front nine was a quieter affair — a bogey on the fifth preceding birdies on the seventh and ninth.
The start to the back nine was no different but with an eye on his craft and the other on the scoreboard, the youngster stepped on the gas once Jyoti stuttered. Though he slipped on the 12th as well, Bhullar recovered well to pocket three birdies to a lone blemish on the penultimate hole.
“I love to look at the leaderboard and unlike a lot of others, I can’t play well without looking at it,” said the youngster, who, at 169, has overtaken Jyoti, at 194, in the latest World Golf Rankings.