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Bengaluru, February 12, 2020
Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat and Patna’s Aman Raj emerged half-way leaders at 12-under 132 at the Tata Steel PGTI Players Championship here on Wedensday.
While Veer struck a 65, Aman returned a 67, as the duo held a one-stroke lead.
Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi carded the day’s best score of eight-under 64 to lie third at 11-under 133 while Shubhankar Sharma, the pre-tournament favourite and defending champion followed up his first round 73 with a steady 71 in round two to occupy tied 35th place at even-par 144.
The cut fell at one-over 145 with 50 professionals advancing to the last two rounds.
Ahlawat (67-65), a 10th tee starter, was rewarded for his accuracy off the tee as he collected five birdies on the back-nine including four on the trot from the 14th to the 17th. He moved to an imposing eight-under for the day with three more birdies between the first and the fifth including a chip-in on the third.
The lanky Ahlawat stumbled towards the end with bogeys on the sixth and ninth where he missed chip-putts in exchange for a birdie on the seventh.
Ahlawat said, “I hit a lot more fairways today as compared to round one so that set up the opportunities for me. My putting was also better than the first round. I played well for most of the day but had a bad stretch towards the end.I bogeyed the ninth on both days as it doesn’t suit my eye. So, I’ll look to change my game-plan and do something different on that hole over the next two days.”
Aman Raj (65-67), the first-round leader, managed to stay on top of the leaderboard for the second day running with a round that featured eight birdies and three bogeys. His round was highlighted by his precise approach shots on the 11th and 13th that landed within a couple of feet of the pin to set up birdies.
Aman said, “It was a good day for me except I feel I made a few too many bogeys. My approaches and wedges were good and I was happy with my recovery on the last three holes as I birdied the seventh and ninth.”
Joshi’s flawless 64 included an eagle-two on the sixth where he found the hole with his lob wedge shot from 105 yards.
Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh also shot the day’s best 64 to be tied fourth at 10-under-134 along with Delhi’s Himmat Rai who fired an error-free 66. Gaurav Pratap submitted a card with nine birdies and a bogey. He made a birdie chip-in on the 15th and a couple of quality par-saves on the front-nine.
Pune’s Udayan Mane, who won PGTI’s last two events, was a further stroke back in tied sixth. Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa shared ninth place at eight-under-136. Sharma recovered well after a double-bogey on the first hole as he added five birdies at the cost of two bogeys to his card.
Local pro Viraj Madappa, the joint runner-up in Hyderabad last week, missed the cut by one shot after firing a 72 in the second round that took his total to two-over 146. Former India hockey captain Dilip Tirkey too missed the cut as he totaled 18-over 162.