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Not a walk in the park for Unho

Kapur joins Unho Park in lead with late surge; Randhawa placed joint second at half-way stage, reports Robin Bose.

other Updated: Feb 29, 2008 21:02 IST
Robin Bose

Tossing wit into golf can often whip up a heady combination and serve as a bail-out. Jyoti Randhawa has never played beyond five weeks on the trot, but Jeev Milkha Singh's words, "You've got to test your body," stuck on with the former. After allowing expectations to weigh him down the previous day, Randhawa, in his seventh week on the run, returned an astounding round of seven-under 65 for an overall nine-under to be a stroke shy of leaders Shiv Kapur and Unho Park in the Johnnie Walker Classic.

If it was mirth that fired up Randhawa, Kapur put to use the pearls of wisdom from veteran Vikramjit Singh. "He advised me to keep the hands soft while putting and I reaped the harvest," said Kapur.

The Delhi golfer had clung on for a joint 14th on Thursday, the fourth day of a viral infection, thinking "if I can get through the day by following golf's oldest cliché of playing one shot at a time and not bothering too much about technique and the score, I should be fully fit tomorrow".

Though energy levels were a problem on Friday, Kapur kept himself going during his card of 65 by drawing from the five birdies. An eagle on the sixth was another shot in the arm and was in sync with the parlance "an eagle on the course is prettier than the one in the air".

For Randhawa, it was "if one countryman can do it, so can the other". "I am trying to keep up with Jeev while testing my body," he stated. The fact that Park went ahead with a six-under card after he had finished for the day and Kapur came up with a late surge would not be cause for a sleepless night as Randhawa has tasted the fruits of keeping it simple and intends to extract extra dividend from the strategy.

"After yesterday's mental lapse, I just played my game and had fun. It helped." It did as the return to basics not only lifted Randhawa from the 24th spot but also saw an immaculate round abounding with seven birdies. "Making a lot of putts was the key and I hit a few iron shots well too," were the highlights he pointed to.

But amidst the euphoria, the road ahead was viewed with with guarded optimism. "I haven't been able to hang on in the last few tournaments. It's good that I keep knocking on the door and hope it'll open sometime." Unlike Randhawa, Jeev failed to take a leaf out of his partner's book and allowed inconsistency to hurt him again.

The day's best card was returned by Briton Phillip Archer as his eight-under for the day sent him spiraling from 49th to joint fifth.

The cut was applied at two-under that left big names like Colin Montgomerie, Ian Poulter and Sam Torrance being left out in the cold.

After missing the cut in the SAIL Open, leader Park struck a purple patch. Possessing one of the best swings in Asia, the way forward for the Australian of South Korean origin was working on his strength by watching Vijay Singh at the range. "Things creep into your swing and they need ironing out. After watching Vijay, I tried a few different things and it started working," said the Singapore-based golfer, who has a black belt in taekwondo.

Apart from inspiring Park, Vijay himself came up with a better performance to lift himself from 24th to 13th to be eight places adrift of Adam Scott, who appears keen to add another Striding Man to his 2005 collection. Though he slipped two slots, a second straight four-under card, despite "not swinging the club well", kept the event's top ranked player in contention.

Leader board:

(1) Unho Park, Shiv Kapur, 134; (3) Jyoti Randhawa, Taichiro Kiyota 135; (5) Graeme Storm, Phillip Archer, Adam Scott, Jose Manuel Lara, 136; (9) Adam Bland, Greg Chalmers, Richard Finch, Lin Wen-tang, 137; (13) Scott Strange, Soren Hansen, Paul Sheehan, Jeev Milkha Singh, Vijay Singh, Daniel Vancsik, 138; (19) Chris Rodgers, Rahil Gangjee, Marcus Fraser, Prayad Marksaeng, Mark Brown, James Kamte, Michael Long, Arjun Singh, Lee Won-joon, 139.