Shamim Khan takes lead at Standard Chartered Open

Shamim KhanColombo: India’s Shamim Khan shot 68 to take a lead in The Standard Chartered Open 2012, Sri Lanka’s largest ever professional golf event here on Friday. One shot off the lead on twelve under is Vinod Kumar, who carded four under par 67 and was vying with Khan for the lead most of the way round The Royal Colombo Club course, but just fell one behind as Khan setup his slight advantage for tomorrow’s final round.

Meanwhile, it could be a great day for Si Lankan golf on Saturday as local favourites Anura Rohana and Mithun Perera are both in with a good chance of winning The Standard Chartered Open 2012, Sri Lanka’s largest ever professional golf event.

Although conditions were tough at times with a good downpour and strong winds for a large part of the latter half of the day’s play, scoring was still good but not quite up to yesterday’s level. Most players felt that the course was in excellent condition and the pin positions were very fair, not too tough.

After a six under par round of 65, taking him to a ten under par 54 hole total of 203, Anura Rohana is the leading Sri Lankan player - only three shots behind India’s Shamim Khan, the joint overnight leader who shot a 68 to take the outright lead on thirteen under par – an even score of 200 for the three rounds so far.

Rohana commented “I played well today with seven birdies and one bogey, the course is in excellent shape and there is a lot of good golf being played out there. As it worked out last week, being behind going into the final round is not always a bad thing! I’m only three shots off the lead and anything can happen tomorrow. Whoever wins, I’m sure it will be an exciting finish and a great advert for golf in Sri Lanka.”

Level with Rohana on ten under is overnight co-leader, Abhijit Chadha, who despite playing well and under par for most of the round, just faltered over the back nine and finished with a level par 71 and a three round total of 203.

The other local Sri Lankan star, Mithun Perera, could not repeat the ‘birdie power’ that took him to a stunning 63 yesterday; despite having various chances, things didn’t go his way today and he had to settle for a more sedate one under par 70 and nine under par overall. He lies four shots off the lead going into the final round but is still well within striking distance of the win.

“It was tough out there with the strong winds, but I should have done better; the pins were in good positions but my putting let me down. Coming from four shots back is not impossible but I will definitely have to hole my putts if I am going to be in the final mix” said Perera.

One further shot behind Perera on seven under par is a group of three players who all scored well today – M Dharma and Digvijay Singh with four under par 67s and Rashid Khan with a three under par 68. Singh’s score could have been even better - he started very well and was four under par for the round after six holes, further birdies followed to get him to ten under par for the tournament at one stage but three dropped shots over the last two holes moved him back down the leader-board.

Special mention should be made of the two Sri Lankan amateurs who made the cut – Zen Dharmaratne who was two under par at the half-way stage, but unfortunately shed a few shots today to take a six over par 77 for a three round total of 217; and M Arumgam who just made the half-way cut and had a very creditable one over par 72 today for a 54 hole score of 218. These are the only two amateurs left in the event and in competition for the .Best Amateur’ prize.

Leading Scores after the third round – 200 Shamim Khan (68,64,68); 201 Vinod Kumar (66,68,67); 203 Anura Rohana 68,70,65), Abhijit Chadha (65,67,71); 204 Mithun Perera (71,63,70); 206 M Dharma (71,68,67), Digvijay Singh (69,70,67), Rashid Khan (67,71,68).