Gurgaon: Having led the 2012 Avantha Masters at the end of the first two rounds, Scotland’s Peter Whiteford had to be content with tied second along with Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France and Germany’s Marcel Siem, after finishing the day on an even par-72 for an aggregate of 10-under 206 at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Saturday.
South Africa’s Jbe Kruger led the pack with a score 11-under 205 on a day when Whiteford’s brilliant drives and approach shots were at times overshadowed by some erratic putting, which eventually proved to be a major hindrance in his finishing act.
Aiming for his maiden title on the European tour, Whiteford made a promising start, pocketing a birdie on the very first hole to take his score to 11-under.
The 31-year old Scot then went to miss a series of birdies before coming unstuck in the hedges of hole five to suffer a double bogey.
Whiteford was quick to recover though, a great chip shot which led to a birdie in the very next hole but it was another opportunity lost on hole seven when a superb approach on to the green was undone by a poor putt.
The eighth hole saw him miss yet another birdie after the tee shot proved to be on target in spite of the divot.
Whiteford finally seemed to get his putting in order with an impressive shot on his third stroke which led to his third birdie on the ninth hole. But it was followed by a bad miss with the putt on the very next hole.
However, the Doctor Jekyll -Mister Hyde story was set to continue as the Scot came up with a decent putt on the 12th hole for a birdie and a score of 11-under.
After a bogey on the 13th hole, Whiteford came up with some stunning strokes on the 14th (par-5, 565 yards) to end up with a birdie.
Just when it looked like he was going to finish the day with the lead for the third successive day, there was to be a twist in the tale.
The chip which had worked wonders for Whiteford throughout the day failed to clear the water body on the 17th hole, which of course led to a one-stroke penalty and a dramatic turn of events.
Things had changed at the snap of a finger and so had the Scot’s body language. A relaxed and confident demeanor had now given way to self doubt. A distraught Whiteford flung his club to his caddie but unfortunately for him worse was to follow as for the umpteenth time a putt was missed and the result: a second double bogey.
A two-shot deficit meant that Whiteford had now lost the tournament lead to Kruger and it was to stay that way as the 18th hole and final hole failed to produce a much-needed birdie for the Scottish golfer.
Despite his reversal of fortune for the worse on Saturday, Whiteford did not delve too much into his putting problems.
“I did not feel I hit too many bad putts. The greens were difficult to read, they were grainy and I am not used to them that much,” he said.