Challenging course

K. Kumaran, the champion.-V. GANESAN

AS a tournament for amateurs, The Sportstar Open has its own relevance. The meet provides a stage for the non-professional golfers to test their skills in a competitive atmosphere. No wonder, the annual event is popular.

K. Kumaran proved a popular winner too in the 2005 edition of The Sportstar Open held at the Gymkhana links in Chennai. He triumphed by a comfortable 10 strokes. Kumaran had lost a play-off for the title to C. V. Yudhvir five years ago.

The par-70 Gymkhana links is a challenging course. The absence of trees makes it hard for the golfers to judge distances. And the crosswinds have to be negotiated in a skilful manner.

Kumaran's consistency proved his strength on a day when the heat was also a factor. He parred with a 70, birdying the third hole, bogeying the fifth, and finding the greens consistently. Runner-up Jayanan Satagopal tallied 78.

With a four-over 74, Kumaran was two strokes ahead of Satagopal on day one. Satagopal birdied the eighth and the 14th holes, but was pegged back by seven bogeys and a triple bogey on the fifth in the second round.

R. Sanjay and K. J. Ramaswamy tied with a nett score of 141 in the handicap section. The former was adjudged winner because of a better second round.

Satagopal and Sunil Venglet clinched the team title with 292 (nett). Chummar Verghese, K. Sundar and Captain Sheshadri, who totalled 295, were second.

The 14-year-old Abhinav Suresh emerged the stableford winner with 39 points. Gymkhana Club secretary Arvind Ratnam said Abhinav was part of the club's programme to nurture junior talent.

Chief Guest N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, dwelt on the growing spread of golf in the country. Mr. Ram was pleased that The Sportstar tournament was revived in 2004 after a break of three years — S. Dinakar