Chiragh Kumar on the rise after round two of Panasonic Open India

Chiragh Kumar Dubai OpenNew Delhi: India’s Chiragh Kumar came back strongly after a poor start at his home course, the Delhi Golf Club, on Friday, to be the halfway leader by three shots at the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India 2015. Chiragh’s two-day tally stood at an impressive 11-under-133 as a result of his second round of six-under-66.

PGTI member Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka submitted a card of two-under-70 to be in second place at eight-under-136.

The cut was declared at three-over-147. Seventy-one players made the cut which included 30 Indians.

Chiragh Kumar (67-66), who was overnight tied second, one off the lead, followed up his sublime opening round of 67 with an inspiring 66 on Friday which featured nine birdies against three bogeys. Chiragh, a five-time winner on the PGTI, had a forgettable start to the day after a couple of erratic shots by him resulted in bogeys on the 11th and 13th. The 31-year-old also missed a short birdie putt on the 14th. He then had a hot streak of six straight birdies from the 15th to the second to stage a grand comeback.

Kumar went on to add three more birdies on the fifth, sixth, seventh to make his way to the top of the leaderboard. He converted seven birdie putts from a range of 10 to 15 feet in round two. The Delhi-based golfer however couldn’t manage to close the round with a flourish as he missed two four-footers on the eighth and ninth, one for birdie and the other for par.

Chiragh said, “I told myself not to let the poor start get to me. I missed a short birdie putt on the 14th hole and I kept telling myself to move on. Everything fell into place after that so I’m glad I missed that putt!

“I wish I holed a few more birdie putts and finish higher than I did. Being patient is something that comes with age, maturity and some experience. You keep grinding it out until the round is over.

“I’m playing good and the chances keep coming. If I keep doing what I’ve been doing then I’ll have a lot more opportunities to contend for titles.

“I made my fair share of birdies so I can’t complain. All my birdies were close. It has been a while since I’ve been in the lead. There’s a long day and night ahead so let’s see what happens,” added Chiragh, who recently finished a creditable tied second at the Asian Tour’s Venetian Macau Open.

Mithun Perera (66-70), the overnight leader by one shot, put up a clinical 70 on the board in round two and thus continued to be one of the top contenders for the weekend. Perera began his day with a chip-in birdie from the bunker on the 10th and converted a 20-feet birdie putt on the 12th. However, his card on the first-nine was spoiled by the bogey on the 11th and double-bogey on 13th.

Mithun, who missed only two fairways in round two, put together four birdies against a lone bogey on his second-nine to salvage his day. He narrowly missed a hole-in-one on the seventh where his tee shot stopped two feet from the hole.

Perera said, “I played better golf compared to yesterday but overall it was a mixed day. I hit a lot of my shots close to the hole but couldn’t hole the putts.

“My putting stroke was good but I couldn’t make it. I played quite well honestly except for the double bogey on the 13th hole. I was on the fairway but my second shot bounced into the bush which was disappointing.

“At Delhi Golf Club, one shot can take away a good round. I won’t worry about the next two days. I’ll try to get more red numbers and see where it leads me. On the seventh hole I almost had a hole-in-one but my ball turned at the last minute (6 iron),” added Mithun.

PGTI member Md Siddikur Rahman (68-70) of Bangladesh, who has always performed well at the DGC, ended day two in tied third at six-under-138 along with fellow Bangladeshi and PGTI member Md Zamal Hossain Mollah and Thailand’s Pawin Ingkhapradit. Siddikur’s second round effort featured four birdies and two bogeys which included a 15 feet birdie on the seventh.

Siddikur said, “I didn’t hit the ball straight off the tees but my short game saved me. I’m still happy with my score. I should not pressure myself even though Chiragh is leading. Anything can happen here. One shot can give you huge problems here. Just focus on my own game and that’s the key to a good score.”

Besides Chiragh, the three other Indians in the top-10 were, Noida’s Vikrant Chopra (68) in tied sixth at five-under-139 and Kolkata’s Shankar Das (71) as well as Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa S (71), both placed tied eighth at four-under-140.

Indians Sanjay Kumar, Sujjan Singh, Amardip Sinh Malik, Jyoti Randhawa and Mukesh Kumar occupied tied 12th place at three-under-141. Rashid Khan and Khalin Joshi were a further shot back in tied 18th to make it 11 Indians in the top-20.

Scores after round 2 of the Panasonic Open India 2015 being played at the par 72, 6983 Yards Delhi GC course (am - denotes amateur):

133 - Chiragh KUMAR (IND) 67-66.
136 - Mithun PERERA (SRI) 66-70.
138 - Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 68-70, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 70-68, Zamal HOSSAIN (BAN) 71-67.
139 - Vikrant CHOPRA (IND) 71-68, K. PRABAGARAN (SRI) 69-70.
140 - Shankar DAS (IND) 69-71, Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 68-72, Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA) 67-73, Chikka S. (IND) 69-71.
141 - Sanjay KUMAR (IND) 70-71, Sujjan SINGH (IND) 71-70, Amardip MALIK (IND) 71-70, Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 69-72, Mukesh KUMAR (IND) 70-71, N. THANGARAJA (SRI) 68-73.
142 - Rashid KHAN (IND) 71-71, Khalin JOSHI (IND) 69-73, James BYRNE (SCO) 70-72, KOH Deng Shan (SIN) 72-70, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 71-71, Niall KEARNEY (IRL) 71-71.