Rohana, Gupta steal the spotlight

Rohana, Gupta steal the spotlight

Golf Louis Philippe Cup: Sri Lankan guides Chennai to the top with four-under 68; Bangalore in tied second spot

Anura Rohana and Harendra P Gupta stole the limelight from the galaxy of stars in attendance at the Louis Philippe Cup with impressive opening-round displays here on Wednesday.

While Sri Lanka’s Rohana celebrated his return to the Karnataka Golf Association -- where he captured his maiden pro title in command fashion last September -- in style with a brilliant four-under 68 to propel his franchise Take Chennai (138) to the top of the leaderboard, the soft-spoken Harendra outdid his more illustrious team-mate Gaganjeet Bhullar, also with a composed 68, to help Dev Ellora share the second spot with Puravankara Bangalore and 3C Delhi, for whom Shiv Kapur shot a 68 -- the joint best round of the day.

Not much was spoken about Chennai in the lead-up to the tournament, with most of the focus centered on Jeev Milkha Singh and others stars of Indian golf. With just the out-of-form SSP Chowrasia as the icon player and Rohana and under-achiever Gaurav
Ghei in their ranks, nothing spectacular was expected of them.

Although they didn’t produce a roaring performance, Chennai still made an early announcement that they could very well mount a serious challenge for the title.

Led wonderfully by Rohana, who could have gone much lower if not for poor luck, Chennai were also bolstered by the timely return to form of Chowrasia, who should enjoy KGA for his putting prowess.

A 10th-tee starter, Rohana took off in agonising fashion, when the ball lipped out from four feet on the 11th and the 13th, costing him two shots straightaway. He did salvage a birdie on the 14th but another lip-out two holes later from three feet brought him back to two-over. However, the 38-year-old hardly allowed that to affect him as he suddenly exploded to life from the turn, firing four birdies on the trot with some fantastic approach shots.

After holing out from given on the par-4 18th and the first holes, Rohana stroked the ball to within five feet from 140 yards on the second and third to go two-under. He then laid the finishing touches in style, picking up shots on the eight and ninth.

Things, however, appear dim for star act Jeev, whose Shubhkamna Noida is languishing at the bottom despite the 40-year-old hitting a 71. Six shots off the pace, the team will have pull up its socks on Thursday if it is to make the semifinal cut.

Scores: 138: Take Chennai (Anura Rohana 68, SSP Chowrasia 70); 139: Puravankara Bangalore (Anirban Lahiri 69, Manav Jaini 70), Dev Ellora Chandigarh (Harendra P Gupta 68, Gaganjeet Bhullar 71), 3C Delhi (Shiv Kapur 68, Rashid Khan 71); 140: Ansal API Lucknow (Vijay Kumar 69, Md Siddikur Rahman 71), Navratna Ahmedabad (Mithun Perera 70, Vinod Kumar 70); 141: AVT Kolkata (Chiragh Kumar 69, Feroz Ali Mollah 72); 142: DLF Gurgaon (Jyoti Randhawa 70, Himmat Singh Rai 72); 143: Oxford Group West (Ashok Kumar 71, Mukesh Kumar 72); 144: Shubhkamna Noida (Jeev Milkha Singh 71, Gaurav Pratap Singh 73).

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