Mukesh Kumar surges ahead at halfway stage

Mukesh Kumar Round 2 leaderDigboi: Six-time winner Mukesh Kumar of Mhow surged ahead at the halfway stage of the Rs. 30 lakh IndianOil Servo Masters Golf 2015 being played at the Digboi Golf Links in Digboi, Assam, after his solid second round effort of four-under-68. Mukesh, who totaled 10-under-134 for the first two days, led by one stroke from Bengaluru’s M Dharma.

The cut was declared at three-over-147. Fifty-four professionals made the halfway cut.

Mukesh Kumar (66-68), who was one off the lead in tied second after round one, seemed to be coming into his own at one of his favourite venues during round two. The 50-year-old seasoned campaigner was off to a sizzling start with a 20-feet birdie putt on the first. Mukesh missed a sitter on the very next hole but rallied with another long birdie conversion from 15 feet on the fourth.

Mukesh added three more birdies to his card on the seventh, ninth and 11th thanks to some excellent chip shots all of which landed within three feet of the cup. He then closed out his round with seven straight pars even though he missed some short birdie putts on that stretch.

“I recovered well after the early bogey on the second and played some brilliant chips. However, it was a poor putting day for me except for the first few holes. I missed a lot of short putts on the back-nine. Nonetheless, I’m in a great position at the moment and will look to build from here on,” said Mukesh.

He added, “Coming to Digboi is always special. I try to remember my past experiences of winning here to boost my confidence. I know the course very well and therefore I’m able to recover from tough situations more often than not.”

M Dharma (67-68) of Bengaluru climbed up from overnight tied fourth to second place after his second round of 68. Dharma, who had made a 20-feet eagle after driving the green on the third in round one, mixed five birdies against a lone bogey in round two.

Three of his birdies came as a result of good chip-putts from the edge while he sank an eight-footer on one of them. Dharma, a winner on the PGTI, narrowly missed his second eagle of the tournament when his 10-feet putt just shaved the hole on the seventh.

Dharma said, “All aspects of my game have clicked over the last two days and that’s the reason I find myself in contention here. I’ve always played well in Digboi, having posted some low scores in the past. I’ve also had a top-5 finish here.

“I missed the cut in the last few events so I’m delighted to be back in the hunt this week. I’m playing well but things have just not been going for me. I hope that changes over the next two days,” added Dharma.

The Noida duo of overnight leader Gaurav Pratap Singh (65-71) and Vikrant Chopra (67-69) occupied tied third place at eight-under-136. While Gaurav scrambled through the day with four birdies and three bogeys, Vikrant made four birdies which included a 20-feet conversion and a lone bogey.

Sri Lankan N Thangaraja shot the day’s best of 66 to share fifth place with Kolkata’s Shankar Das (71) and Om Prakash Chouhan (68) of Mhow at seven-under-137. Shankar thus slipped three places from his overnight tied second.

Defending champion Shamim Khan (71-72) of Delhi returned an even-par-72 to be tied 21st at one-under-143.

All the six local players, four professionals and two amateurs, missed the cut. Deven Bhumij in tied 55th at four-over-148 was the highest-placed local professional at the end of round two. He missed the cut by one shot.