Jyoti Randhawa moved into the lead at the halfway stage of the Clariden Leu Singapore Masters at the Laguna National Golf Club and then revealed how playing regularly alongside the stars of world golf on The European Tour had helped his game progress.
The 34 year old Indian moved to pole position in the co-sanctioned tournament between The European Tour and the Asian Tour with a second round 68 on the harder Masters Course – the course which will be used for the final two rounds over the weekend – for an 11 under par total of 133.
It gave Randhawa a one shot lead over Scotland’s Barry Hume, who posted a 69 also on the Masters Course for a ten under par total of 134 while Malaysia’s Iain Steel and England’s Gary Lockerbie shared third place on nine under par 135, Lockerbie posting a late 67 while Steel’s 65 was the best round of the day.
Randhawa has been in some good positions in tournaments of late in the early stages but failed to follow it through. However, the Indian World Cup and Dunhill Cup player admitted his confidence is growing due to the company he is now keeping.
“It is still a learning experience for me as it is only my second year on The European Tour but it is great to play with the great names in golf like Tiger and Ernie,” he said. “I played with Tiger in the HSBC and Ernie in Dubai this year and I am gaining a lot of experience because of that and by the end of this year I should hopefully be a more rounded player.
“I think the thing I have learned is to be more consistent in my ball striking. I haven’t been able to do that over the last two rounds in recent tournaments but it is more of a mental battle too, you have to stay in the present and try and do your best.”
Certainly Randhawa won the mental battle in his second round where three bogeys at key parts of his round might have discouraged lesser players. But he battled back with seven birdies elsewhere to give himself the lead going into the weekend action.
Second placed Barry Hume could have led outright but for the fact he found the water from the tee at the demanding 202 yard 17th on his way to a double bogey five, which immediately negated the birdies at the 15th and 16th which had moved the Scot to 12 under par for the tournament.
But the former Scottish amateur champion, now a member of the Asian Tour, admitted he was still more than happy with his position. “Although it was disappointing to finish the way I did, my golf overall has been good so I am not too worried about that,” he said.
“The goal at the start of the week was to make the cut, as with a field of 204 there are a lot of players here who are going to miss out, so I am happy with that and I have probably done better so far than I thought I would. Now I’ve made the cut, I’ll have to look a bit higher.”
Hume tried unsuccessfully on six occasions to come through The European Tour Qualifying School before turning his attention to Asia and, had it not been for the unusual intervention of Anton Haig, who won last week’s Johnnie Walker Classic, he might not have been here this week at all.
Going into the final counting event of the 2006 Asian Tour season, the Volvo Masters of Asia, Hume was in 61st place on the Order of Merit and therefore not eligible for a place in the tournament where the top 60 gained their cards for the following season.
However, Haig, a winner of an earlier season tournament and therefore with in possession of an existing exemption, decided to withdraw from the tournament giving Hume the spot and, subsequently, his playing privileges in the region for 2007.
“That was maybe one of those breaks that people get in their career and I hope it is the one that changes my career and sends it the way I want it to go,” said Hume. “Anton actually asked me about it in Indonesia a couple of weeks ago when we played together. I explained what happened so I bought him a couple of drinks – I might be due him some more, but I think he can afford some himself now!”
The Scottish theme amongst the leading protagonists was carried on by third placed Iain Steel who, as the spelling of his first name might suggest, carries the Scottish heritage given to him by his Ayrshire father, Graham, although he represents Malaysia, the country of his mother’s birth.
Indeed the 35 year old actually attended the same Scottish school – Strathallan in Perthshire – as Colin Montgomerie, although the eight time European Tour Order of Merit winner had left to further his own golfing career by the time the young Steel arrived in the early 1980s.
Certainly Steel produced a round of golf that his former schoolmate would have been very proud to call his own, eight birdies in total in his 65 proving the best round of the day on the Masters Course.
Alongside Steel, Lockerbie, who came through the Challenge Tour in 2006, was consistency personified in a front nine which featured nine straight pars before his challenge truly took off on the inward half with five birdies in nine holes for an excellent 67.
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