Enjoying a purple patch

D. RAVI SHANKAR

THERE are times in everyone's lives when there is a purple patch and Mukesh Kumar's fortunes peaked during the last three matches of the Southern leg of the Hero Honda Golf Tour. Going into the last tournament of the southern sojourn, Mukesh Kumar had won two in a row, The Hindu Open at the Cosmopolitan Club and the Hyundai Open at the Gymkhana Club course. The Cotton City Open was thus of great importance to the professional from Mhow.

Mukesh Kumar (third from right), who won the Cotton City Open golf tournament, with the winner's cheque. Others in the picture are (from left): Shyam Sundar, Secretary, Coimbatore Golf Club (CGC), Brandon De Souza, President, Tiger Sports Marketing, Dr. V. P. Subbiah, captain, CGC and K. Rajagopal, President, CGC.-K. ANANTHAN

There were some critics who said that the Cotton City Open had a depleted field. True, Inderjit Bhalotia and Uttam Singh Mundy were among the drop-outs from the field at the Hyundai Open. Others to be away on tournaments abroad were Jyoti Randhawa, Gaurav Ghei, Arjun Atwal, Arjun Singh and Vijay Kumar. But in golf one is not only playing against the rivals but also against himself and more importantly against the course.

The Coimbatore Golf Course is like an oasis in a desert. Situated some 30 km away from the city near Chettypalayam, the par 72, 6,793-yard course is the only greenery around for miles. Using pumped water from a tank some 10 km away, the course had some lovely greens but the fairways, though good, were starved of water. Lack of rains meant that the fairways were not in top condition. However the course authorities deserve full credit for their efforts in making the tournament a huge success. Incidentally, the club celebrates its 25th anniversary in October.

Mukesh Kumar showed no signs of nerves or pressure in teeing off the tournament. Sharing the lead on the opening day with Feroz Ali and Shiv Prakash, Mukesh began with a score of four under 68, making it a rousing start.

On day two Mukesh continued to be in good touch returning two under 70 to be in the lead with Feroz Ali who also had an identical score. Both players showed their skills on the 13th hole, taking a difficult route to the greens, essaying their drives between two trees which made the tee off difficult. The drive through the trees ensured that if one played well it would save a stroke while reaching the greens and could result in an eagle or at least a birdie.

V. Ramnarayan bagged the title in the Amateurs section.-K. ANANTHAN

Starting the penultimate day with a cumulative score of six under, both Mukesh Kumar and Feroz Ali found the pin positions getting increasingly tough. While Mukesh Kumar came back with a score of one over 73, Feroz Ali had a card of three over 75 giving Mukesh a healthy two-stroke lead going into the final round.

There was plenty of excitement in the final round. Mukesh was increasingly feeling the pressure of Feroz breathing down his neck and on the fateful 13th hole, ended up surrendering the lead. Mukesh took the route through the trees but Feroz played safe and went through the dog-leg route. Feroz made a birdie to overhaul Mukesh but it was only a flash in the pan.

The 14th hole decided the outcome of the tournament. Mukesh's prayers were answered as Feroz just could not get his putts right. A triple bogey from Feroz gave the match to Mukesh on a platter and Feroz was so disgusted that he threw away the ball he was playing with. From then on Mukesh played safe and even though he had a card of three over 75, he had built up enough lead on the first two rounds to emerge winner.

The amateurs tournament was a keen contest. P. Sivamurthi took the lead on the opening day only to see Joseph Chakola wrest the initiative on day two. On the penultimate day, V. Ramnarayan assumed command and held on to win by seven strokes from Sivamurthi and Joseph Chakola who were tied for second spot.

The Coimbatore Golf Club has started a tradition of presenting the winner of the tournament a Grey Jacket. V. Lakshminarayan, the major sponsor of the Cotton City Open put the grey jacket on Mukesh Kumar who also received a trophy and a cheque for Rs. 1,37,700. Shyam Sundar, Secretary of the Coimbatore Golf Club promised to make the Coimbatore Golf Club, a very important venue on the Indian Golf calendar.

The results: (Professionals) 1. Mukesh Kumar (68,70,73,75) 286; 2. Feroz Ali (68,70,75,75) 288; 3. S.S.P. Chourasia (73,74,71,73) and Rohtas Singh (72,70,73,76) 291 each.

Amateurs: 1. V. Ramnarayan (84,82,76,74) 316; 2. P. Sivamurthi (79,83,82,79) and Joseph Chakola (81,75,86,81) 323 each.