A must-do in golf is: “Let your attitude determine your game. Don’t let your game determine your attitude.” C. Muniyappa chose to veer from the prescribed path and though the day’s result saw him atop the Hero Honda Indian Open leaderboard, the man admitted to losing ground.
The putter not working for him, it was a nervous start for the overnight joint leader but he managed to keep a clean slate till the 4th. A bogey on the ensuing hole was probably a manifestation of what was going on within but he recovered remarkably to claim a hattrick of birdies and paved the way for another on the 9th. Needing to slot home from about 180 yards, Muniyappa blinked and allowed the mind to assume a vice-like grip over his craft.
“I couldn’t accept that I had missed, and that bothered me for the next couple of holes. Had that not been the case, I would have taken a four-shot lead,” he said after finishing at 10-under 206, a shot ahead of the bunch tied for the second spot.
In turmoil, Muniyappa played the back nine under the pressure of that one missed opportunity. A bogey on the 12th and another on the penultimate hole set him back and the prospect of starting the final day in a five-way tie for the lead loomed large.
Clearly uncomfortable with the possibility, Muniyappa assumed control and set himself up for a birdie putt. The objective was achieved but not before some drama. The 32-year-old landed his second shot in the bunker and the ball settled next to a chocolate wrapper, thrown from the VIP enclosure. Though the two referees present gave him the nod, an objection was raised that he appeared to have touched the sand with his club head while removing the unwanted object. It took several TV replays to clear the player. “I wasn’t sure if I had touched the sand, but now that I’ve been cleared, I am on a high,” said Muniyappa.
The simpleton from Bangalore may have left the DLF Golf & Country Club in a better frame of mind, but it was Harendra Gupta who stood out with his near-flawless hitting. Overnight T14, the 25-year-old from Chandigarh was one of the few to return a 67 for the day and he settled for the second spot in the company of Marcus Both, Lee Sung and Digvijay Singh, who but for the double bogey on the 12th, could have shared the lead.