PGTI Ahmedabad Masters: Defending champ Khalin Joshi storms into three-shot lead

Khalin Joshi PGTIAhmedabad: Defending champion Khalin Joshi of Bengaluru raised hopes of retaining his title at the PGTI Ahmedabad Masters presented by Kalhaar Blues & Greens after shooting a top-class seven-under-65 on day two, the week’s best round so far. He thus stormed into a healthy three-stroke lead at the halfway stage as his total moved to 11-under-133.

Delhi’s Rashid Khan occupied second place at eight-under-136 after his second round of 69.

Khalin Joshi (68-65), lying overnight tied third, one off the pace, began the day with birdies on the first and second, with the latter witnessing his third chip-in of the week. The 24-year-old’s birdie blitz continued on the seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th as he seemed to inch towards his last year’s course record of nine-under-63, which he shot in the final round.

However, the last four holes saw Joshi make two bogeys thanks to missed opportunities from close range, against a lone birdie. Khalin finally ended with a classy 65.

Joshi said, “I’ve been doing well with the putter over the last two days. I sank two birdies from 20 to 25 feet today. However, I feel, I need to stroke the ball well on the greens. I’ve enjoyed fantastic starts on both days and that has helped my cause.

“I like the greens here and the layout of this course also suits my eye as I mostly play the draw from right to left. I landed it quite close on a few occasions today for birdie tap-ins,” said Khalin, who won a PGTI event in Mewat, Haryana, last month.

“The confidence is high since my last win but I need to improve in a couple of areas in the last two rounds. I’m not very comfortable with the irons going into the flag. I also didn’t close the round well today. If I can address these troubles, I’ll be in with a chance,” Joshi, a three-time winner on the PGTI, added.

Rashid Khan (67-69), the overnight joint leader, slipped to second place on a day he struck five birdies and two bogeys. Khan, despite struggling with his wedges, made the turn at two-under, he then drained a 25-footer on the fourth and followed that up with another birdie on the next hole to move to a promising four-under for the day.

Rashid, however, did not finish well, as he found the water on the eighth to drop his second bogey of the day.

Khan’s playing partner Om Prakash Chouhan (69-68) of Mhow returned an eagle, three birdies and a bogey during his round of 68 to end the day in third at seven-under-137.

Delhi’s Kapil Kumar fired an incredible eight birdies in his round which were to an extent negated by a bogey and a double-bogey. He carded a 67 to move into fourth at six-under-138.

Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (68) was a further shot behind in fifth place.

Chikkarangappa (67-76) of Bengaluru, the overnight joint leader with Rashid, dropped to 14th place at one-under-143 after a forgettable 76 in round two.

Ahmedabad-based amateur Varun Parikh (72-75) followed up his opening round effort of 72 with a 75 on day two to take his tally to three-over-147. Parikh, placed tied 28th, was the only amateur and local player to make the cut.

The cut fell at seven-over-151. Fifty professionals and one amateur made the cut.