Repeated adjustment of the cap through the day had caused the piece of black ribbon to almost come off. Though in shreds, Shiv Kapur took care to free the remaining strands from the pin at the back.
Worn as a mark of solidarity with the Delhi gang rape victim, fortunes changed at the Noida Golf Course, but irrespective of their standing on the leaderboard, the players were bound by sobriety."Worldwide, across all tours, players rally around when misfortune strikes," said Jeev Milkha Singh. At four-under 140, his title hopes at the Shubhkamna Champions are all but over, Jeev's words or the in contention Shiv's nimble act summed up the mood on Saturday.
Done with freeing the ribbon from the clasp, Shiv carefully folded the remnants and put it in the pocket. The exercise did not last long but it did distract the mind briefly.
He was one shot off the lead when poor judgement caused the second shot on the 18th to go awry. The hackles had started to rise, and the subsequent bad chip from the edge of the green meant a frown was in place as he went about the customary handshakes.
The 66 was good enough but the final-hole bogey, which left him two off Daniel Chopra, rankled, especially as it put a blot on an otherwise flawless round. "It doesn't matter in the middle of a round, but when the finish is like that, you tend to dwell on it," he said, the face breaking into a weak smile.
The Asian Tour's Order of Merit title is on his 2013 wishlist, and Day II was quite like how the last quarter unfolded for him. The four top-10s in Asia have left him hopeful that the coming season will arm him again with playing rights on the European Tour. "I will get 15-18 starts, which will be enough to get my card back," he said.
The holiday season on, Shiv had hoped to reserve the intensity for the New Year. But now that he's in contention going into the final day, the "juices have already started to flow".