New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANS) Indian golfer C. Muniyappa Saturday overcame drama on the final hole to maintain his dream run in the $1.25 million Hero Honda Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
The rookie Asian Tour professional from Bangalore shot a third round one-under-par 71 for a one-shot lead over compatriots Digvijay Singh and Harendra Gupta, South Korean Lee Sung and Australian Marcus Both.
Muniyappa, who started the day sharing the lead with Lee, finished with a three-round aggregate of 10-under-par 206 but he was made to sweat before being able to sign his scorecard.
He had been in the greenside bunker on the par-five 18th and when clearing a wrapper from behind the ball, he appeared to brush the sand with his club head.
This could have led to a penalty shot but after reviewing television footage and consulting the rules, as also officials who were next to the bunker, tournament director David Parkin cleared the Indian of any infringement.
“I am very, very happy that is all over. It was a nervous wait,” said Muniyappa, who like many local Indian players, comes from a humble background.
The 32-year-old, a professional since 1996, is currently enjoying the finest week of his career and is exceeding all expectations.
He has two top-20 finishes to his name this year on the Asian Tour and has won once on the Indian Tour in an event last year.
His inexperience leading such a big tournament also showed on the par-four 17th, where he hit his tee shot with a four iron into water and took a bogey.
However, he showed his class earlier in the round when, having fallen off the lead, he birdied three holes on the trot from the sixth.
Gupta and Both carded the low rounds of the day with 67s, while Singh returned 71. Lee, who was born deaf, came in with a 72.
Said Both: “It is a really packed leader board, so it’s wide open. Surprisingly, nobody really made a move today. It is nice to be in contention again and I am playing quite well so hope to be in the mix tomorrow.”
Digvijay, who is Jyoti Randhawa’s brother in law, has been struggling with a wrist injury and is delighted be in the hunt.
“My wrist injury has made me a little apprehensive of fading the ball so I’m trying to minimize the number of fades I need to play. Anyone who is at six under or better today will stand a chance in the final round. Thirteen to 14 under could be the winning score,” said Singh.
First round leader Adam Blyth from Australia, Thailand’s Kwanchai Tannin, and South African Jbe Kruger are two shots behind the leaders.
India’s Arjun Atwal fired a 70 and is five behind, while Daniel Chopra from Sweden carded a 75 and eight shots off the pace.
Leading third round scores:
206 — C. Muniyappa (IND) 66—69—71
207 — Harendra Gupta (IND) 68—72—67, Marcus Both (AUS) 69—71—67, Digvijay Singh (IND) 68—68—71, Lee Sung (KOR) 65—70—72
208 — Jbe Kruger (RSA) 70—68—70, Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 68—69—71, Adam Blyth (AUS) 64—72—72
209 — Mukesh Kumar (IND) 71—68—70
210 — Ashok Kumar (IND) 71—71—68, Gaurav Ghei (IND) 70—72—68, Amandeep Johl (IND) 70—71—69, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 69—71—70, Jason King (AUS) 66—73—71, Unho Park (AUS) 67—72—71, Mars Pucay (PHI) 70—67—73
211 — Udorn Duangdecha (THA) 71—72—68, Arjun Atwal (IND) 75—66—70, Keith Horne (RSA) 67—71—73