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The monk who showed his class

Jeev Milkha Singh had a crazy second day at the Hero Honda Indian Open, where Chapchai Nirat and Chang Tse-peng jumped into joint lead with 11-under, reports Khurram Habib.
Hindustan Times | By Khurram Habib, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2007 03:29 AM IST

Jeev Milkha Singh had a crazy second day at the Hero Honda Indian Open, where Chapchai Nirat and Chang Tse-peng jumped into joint lead with 11-under. Jeev passed through crests and troughs rather too frequently for golf’s lazy character, that everyone was left guessing his final score after his eventful round ended.

But for the sake of Indian interest, he somehow managed to stay afloat, despite slipping on five holes — three double bogeys and two bogeys. Only seven holes went on par for him, showing how much of commotion was taking place inside his cranium. He made the cut at tied 63.

He was quick to admit it. “I was just not getting it right. This course has been tough for me for the drives leave no margin for error,” he said. Not surprisingly, just over three years ago, he struggled in SRF match play event at the same venue.

Then too, he went down easily to his unfancied opponent.

The other Indian star, Jyoti Randhawa, did what he is really good at — gradually building up pace. After a two-under on the first day, he carded three-under to stay in the hunt.

Said Randhawa, “It is tough for us to immediately adjust to the course. The greens are a bit slower here.” Jeev revealed the other trick — on driving. “You need to be accurate on your drives. I love driving but here you have to rein them in.”

While the top guns struggled, local boy Shamim Khan stepped up to the plate and continued the first day’s good work, managing a stroke better, 4-under. Shamim, who has just one Indian Tour event under his belt, has had good experiences here. “Last year, I finished tied 21st and the year before, tied 11th,” he said after his round.

While his iron shots were good on Thursday, he putted well on Friday to climb three places to tied fourth and be the best-placed Indian. Rahil Gangjee, who was on 35 moved up to sixth spot with his five-under to be India’s next best.

Thursday’s joint leaders, Gaurav Ghei and Gurbaaz Mann, slipped too, the former carding one-over to go tied eighth, while the latter carding four over to slip to tied 24th. If the Indians, other than Shamim and Gangjee, struggled, Nirat, of Thailand and Taipei’ s Tse-peng, said to be a distant cousin of Michael Chang, found no devil on the fairways.

Said Nirat, “I hit the ball well with the irons. Everytime I was on the fairway, I knew I could put the ball close to the pins which I did today.” Perhaps, as he said, a stint in the Buddhist temple, where he learnt to become a monk, helped.

“The meditation that I learnt has helped to keep my emotions on an even keel.” That was on display early on when on fourth hole he double bogeyed. “But that did not shake my concentration.”

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