Rohana back in business with a superb back nine series

He is from Colombo but Anura Rohana is a very familiar face in the Indian golf circuit. In fact, the 43-year-old Sri Lankan, who has been playing in India for nearly 20 years, is much more at home with the courses here that the ones back home.

Anura Rohana had a brilliant back nine which included birdies on all the last four holes.   -  Special Arrangement

He is from Colombo but Anura Rohana is a very familiar face in the Indian golf circuit. In fact, the 43-year-old Sri Lankan, who has been playing in India for nearly 20 years, is much more at home with the courses here that the ones back home.

Rohana produced a beautiful back nine series, which included birdies in each of the last four holes at CIAL Golf Club here, and his 67 pushed him from the overnight fifth spot to joint lead with Harendra Gupta after the penultimate day’s action in the PGTI Cochin Masters on Friday.

“My second shots were coming off very well, they were setting up birdies. And apart from the birdies in the last four holes, I also came very close to getting birdies in the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes,” said the three-time winner in the PGTI Tour. “I can smell the title here, it’s very close. I hope I have a good final day.”

NO PRO CIRCUIT

The island nation does not have a pro circuit and players like Rohana, currently Sri Lanka’s best along with Mithun Perera, are in India all through the golf season here.

“Every year, we come more than 20 times to India. We stay at home only for about two or three months,” said Rohana, who incidentally holds the course record at the CIAL Golf Club at Nedumbassery, with an eight-under-64 which came in 2015.

It's not cheap playing in India.

“The tickets alone come to Rs 9 lakh every season and hotels and other expenses take another Rs 3 lakh. Fortunately, I have a new sponsor from last month which will cover my ticket costs.

“And earlier, we used to get one-year and six-month visas easily, now we get visas only for a series of tournaments, if there are new ones suddenly popping up in India, we are unable to play them.”

Meanwhile Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta (70-65-72), the lone leader after Thursday’s third round, looked good early today. He moved to two-under for the day after a brilliant bunker shot on the sixth that left him with a tap-in birdie.

But a wrong club selection that resulted in a bogey on the seventh was virtually the start of a disappointing day. The overnight leader by three, Gupta could not produce any more birdies after that and went on to drop another shot on the 14th.

‘BOGEY TOOK AWAY MOMENTUM’

“My driving and tee shots were not as good compared to the second round. I found the hazard a couple of times today,” said the Chandigarh player.

“I feel the bogey on the seventh took away the momentum from me as I kept thinking about it through the round. But, I’m still very much in contention and a score of four to five-under in the final round would give me a good chance of winning.”

Three-time winner Honey Baisoya produced a flawless 68 to climb up from overnight 11th to tied third where he was joined by former champion Mukesh Kumar while Delhi’s Shivendra Singh Sisodia (73) was in fifth place.

Rookie golfer Tapendra Ghai of Gurgaon produced the day’s best score of five-under-66 to be placed tied ninth and defending champion Feroz Ali Mollah (73) of Kolkata closed round three in tied 23rd place.

The leader board (round 3, par 72 course)

207: Anura Rohana (70-70-67) and Harendra Gupta (70-65-72). 209: Honey Baisoya (74-67-68), Mukesh Kumar (70-68-71). 211: Shivendra Singh Sisodia (67-71-73).

213: Raju Ali Mollah (72-72-69), Om Prakash Chouhan (69-71-73), Aman Raj (70-70-73).