Pune: Mandeo Singh Pathania of Greater Noida powered two shots ahead in round two of the inaugural Pune Open after he carded a sublime six-under-66. Pathania’s second round effort took his total to nine-under-135. Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta shot the day’s best score of seven-under-65 that propelled him to second place at seven-under-137 at the Rs. 30 lakh event.
Mandeo Singh Pathania (69-66), lying overnight tied fifth, posted a bogey-free 66 to take pole position at the halfway stage. The 33-year-old from the Jaypee Greens Golf Resort picked up three strokes from a range of six to 10 feet and also capitalized on three of the four par-5s with birdies.
Mandeo, a former winner on the PGTI, who spent most of last year playing professional golf in Canada, could’ve drained an eagle as well had he not missed a five-footer on the fourth. Pathania, known for his long-hitting is using the opportunity of playing at the Pune Open to tune his game before he heads back to Canada to play pro golf in the summer.
Mandeo said, “It was a perfect day of golf for me. I didn’t spray the ball and didn’t commit any errors. I was consistent off the tee and holed a lot of putts. Another round of six-under tomorrow would be ideal as it would place me in the lead going into the final day.
“The weather-break today didn’t really bother me as I’ve got used to such things having played in Canada last year. I’m now looking forward to going back and playing on the Canadian Tour in the summer. However, my target this year is to make it to the Web.com Tour with a good performance at the qualifiers later this year.
“This round has really lifted my confidence and will help me sharpen my game further in what is an extremely important season for me.”
Harendra Gupta (72-65), who began the day in tied 30th seven off the lead, climbed into contention on Wednesday thanks to his improved ball-striking. The 31-year-old made good use of the advice he received on his swing from Bangladeshi professional Md Sayum last week in Dhaka.
Harendra, a winner of eight professional titles, got into his rhythm with the eagle on the par-5 ninth where he found the green in two and converted a 15-footer. Gupta thereafter accumulated five birdies on the back-nine by landing it within six feet on most occasions.
Gupta, who has a top-5 finish and two other top-20s to his credit so far this season, said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so good about my hitting and iron-play. I wasn’t in good hitting form till recently since there was something troubling me about my swing. But I got some sound advice from my friend and fellow professional Md Sayum during the event in Dhaka last week that helped me sort out the issue.
“Sayum pointed out that I needed to make a slight change in my position during impact with the ball. I made the necessary change and have since been striking it well. I’m also feeling mentally stronger this week having addressed the problem with my swing.
“Once I was two-under at the turn today, I knew a score of five to six-under would put in a good position. I just kept hitting it close to set up birdies on the back-nine.”
Pratap Atwal, the round one leader, followed up his opening round 65 with a 73 in round two, to slip to tied third at six-under-138. Pratap sank an eagle and a birdie but also dropped two bogeys and a double-bogey on Wednesday.
Ranjit Singh shot a second straight 69 courtesy his sharp chipping and putting to join Atwal in tied third. Ranjit, who made four birdies and a bogey on day two, chipped-in for birdie on the second and almost holed it from the bunker for eagle on the fourth.
Gaganjeet Bhullar’s second round 71 placed him fifth at five-under-139. Chiragh Kumar returned a 74 in round two to be placed tied 11th at three-under-141. Rashid Khan’s 71 meant he was a further shot back in tied 13th.
Bengaluru’s Udayan Mane, Delhi’s Himmat Singh Rai were in tied 21st at one-under-143. Rookies Aman Raj of Patna and Noida-based Samarth Dwivedi, both playing their first professional event, also took a share of 21st place.
Pravin Pathare and Sagar Raghuvanshi were the highest-placed among the Pune golfers. Pathare and Raghuvanshi closed round two in tied 27th place with totals of even-par-144.
The day witnessed a 40-minute weather suspension due to lightning between 1520 hrs and 1600 hrs local time. The cut fell at two-over-146. Fifty professionals made the cut.