Mane rallies to stay in hunt

Sedate Baisoya leads by two shots

Mane rallies to stay in hunt

It seems like the lull before the storm as Udayan Mane primed himself to go in for the kill on the final day after closing the gap on leader Honey Baisoya to just two shots at the Bengaluru Open Golf Championship here on Friday.

With a handful of enthusiasts following the leader group that included Baisoya (198) and Sujjan Singh (209), Mane carded a six-under 66 (200) in pleasant conditions at the Karnataka Golf Association.

It was a sluggish start for the man who is currently second on the PGTI's Order of Merit, as he had an excruciating eight-hole wait for his first birdie.

Sinking a 20-footer on the ninth hole seemed to lift the burly golfer and he followed it up with an excellent chip and putt on the very next hole.

Four more birdies added to his tally with the most notable of the lot coming on the final hole. Having to claw his way out of the bunker, Mane under-hit his chip and found himself 18-feet short of the pin. Displaying immense poise, he sunk it in emphatic fashion to cap an error-free outing.

Asked if shooting the joint-best total on the day had done a world of good to his confidence, the 26-year-old was profound in his response and said: "I've been trying to figure what confidence is. It isn't something supernatural where you have genie helping you. It's all about playing with heart and winning the battle within. I'm a peaceful warrior."

The round unfolded in contrasting fashion for Baisoya and third-placed Harendra Gupta (204) who both had identical scores of five-under for the day.

The 21-year-old leader Baisoya had the misfortune of a bogey on the third hole but bounced back as he went on a rampage with five consecutive birdies. The Delhi lad probably should have had a bigger cushion, leading by seven shots after eight holes, at the top but hurt his chances with just one birdie on the back nine.

Harendra, with a solid front nine, made some ground on the leaders during the first few holes. The caddie turned pro from Chandigarh Golf Club came to within a shot of Mane after eight, but much like Baisoya, he fizzled out on the latter half of the course.

A lead as small as two shots induces a sense of nervousness in even the best in the business and the magnitude maybe a lot more for the youngsters. Baisoya concurred revealing that he would also try and be at his attacking best.

"I am feeling a little pressure but will try and be aggressive tomorrow. The goal will be to shoot as low a score as possible. Aiming to card about five or six under."

The chasing pack has the likes of local boys M Dharma (206), Rahil Gangjee (207), Khalin Joshi (208) and S Chikkarangappa (208) all of whom may not face the same leaderboard pressure as the men at the top and that could entail a heated fight to the finish.

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