SPORT

Arjuns author contrasting wins

NEW DELHI APRIL 9. Top seed Arjun Atwal and the PGA Champion Arjun Singh scored contrasting wins to save some lustre of the fading field in the SRF all-India Matchplay golf championship at the Delhi Golf Club course here on Wednesday.

Atwal remained unaffected by the fall of the seeds elsewhere in the draw as he coasted to an easy four and three win against Basad Ali. Atwal's confidence has been on a high after winning the 2003 Malaysian Open, a jointly-sanctioned event on the Asian and European PGA Tours.

It would, however, be a pity that Atwal and Arjun Singh should meet relatively early in the draw. If they win their respective pre-quarterfinal matches on Thursday morning, the two Arjuns will square up against each other in the afternoon session, to earn a place in the semifinals.

Arjun Singh won his second round after an up-and-down battle with Jumman before winning on the 18th hole. He was two-up after three holes, but lost fifth and sixth to be on level. The No. 8 seed Arjun Singh won the eighth on par to be one-up at the turn.

After halving the 10th, Arjun Singh bogeyed the 11th and 13th, hitting five shots on both the holes, to be one down. He again grabbed the lead, winning the 14th and 15th holes on birdies.

"I was terribly erratic today. My swings were up to the mark and was kind of struggling and not getting it right,'' said Arjun Singh.

He next meets Jaiveer Virk, the conqueror of ninth seed Gaurav Ghei. ''Jaiveer is probably toughest golfer to beat on this course, particularly in a matchplay format,'' Arjun said. ''He is one of the best putter in the game.''

On the 16th hole, Arjun parred while Jumman birdied to bring the scores at even yet again. The par-three 17th offered Arjun a birdie and he held on to that thin lead to win the match on the 18th.

The DGC, however, maintained its tradition of being graveyard of `seeds' as four others _ Ghei, Uttam Singh Mundy, Digvijay Singh and Amandeep Johl _ lost early in the tournament.

Coming here after a good show in the APGA Tour event, the Thailand Open, Ghei fell victim to Virk, who won on the 15th hole. Virk started the onslaught winning the first two holes and never let the lead slip away. Though he lost the eighth following a bogey, he took the turn three-up winning the ninth.

"I putted well and basically I saw the target and reacted,'' Virk said of his four and three win over Ghei. The 24-year-old Delhi golfer said Ghei lost the initiative early on as he struggled with his putting.

Mundy probably spent the minimum time on the course on Wednesday. Returning at the annex after losing to Pappan on the 12th hole, Mundy reflected that he got massacred.

After halving the first hole with birdies, Mundy lost five holes, three on birdies and two on par. "Pappan played amazing golf. In an effort to make up I brought out my driver which was a bad idea on DGC,'' said Mundy.

Among other winners, Vijay Kumar beat Bhoop Singh five and four, S.S.P. Chaowrasia overcame battling Ali Sher two and one and Ashok Kumar beat Roop Singh three and two.

Defending champion Shiv Prakash chanced on the erratic Amritinder Singh and won six and four. But now he has run into Arjun Atwal.

The results (second round): Arjun Atwal bt Basad Ali 4 and 3; Shiv Prakash bt Amritinder Singh 6 and 4; Arjun Singh bt Jumman 2 up; Jaiveer Virk bt Gaurav Ghei 4 and 3; Vinod Kumar bt Digvijay Singh 19th hole; Yusuf Ali bt Rohtas Singh 20th hole; Vijay Kumar bt Bhoop Singh 5 and 4; Feroz Ali bt Sanjay Kumar 19th hole; S. Madaiah bt Prem 4 and 3; Rahil Gangjee bt Manohar Dike 7 and 5; Mohammed Islam bt Amandeep Johl 19th hole; Pappan bt Uttam Singh Mundy 8 and 6; Devendra Patel bt Hem Chand 3 and 1; Rafiq Ali bt Vivek Bhandari 6 and 5; S.S.P. Chowrasia bt Ali Sher 2 and 1; Ashok Kumar bt Roop Singh 3 and 2.

Thursday's important match-ups: Atwal v Shiv Prakash; Arjun Singh v Virk; Vijay Kumar v Feroz; Ashok Kumar v Chowrasia.