Bengaluru: Reigning Rolex Ranking champion Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru came into his own in round two of the TAKE Open Golf Championship as he shot a resolute five-under-67 to move into the joint lead along with Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh at eight-under-136. Sujjan brought in a card of two-under-70 on Thursday.
While Panchkula-based Shubhankar Sharma (69) was one stroke off the pace in third place, four players, including Bengaluru-based amateur Jaibir Singh (69), Bengaluru’s Rahil Gangjee (70), Sri Lankan Anura Rohana (66) and Chandigarh’s Abhijit Singh Chadha (72), were bunched together in tied fourth at six-under-138.
The cut was declared at two-over-146. Fifty-three professionals and two amateurs made the cut.
Local favourite Chikkarangappa (69-67), who was three off the lead in tied ninth after round one, held his front-nine together on Thursday despite struggling with his approach shots and wedge play. He was two-under through seven but then had a quiet spell of six pars till the 13th.
Chikka’s round took off after his 20-feet birdie conversion from the edge on the 14th. He drained another long birdie putt on the next hole before completing his hat-trick of birdies on the 16th where his approach from 160 yards out landed within two feet of the flag.
Chikka, who narrowly missed out on a birdie from 25 feet on the 18th, now seems to be in the groove as he hasn’t conceded a bogey for the last 28 holes.
Chikka said, “I wasn’t at my best till the 13th hole today. But after the 20-feet conversion on the 14th, I really got into my stride. I played solid golf over the last five holes. The birdie on the 16th was another morale-booster for me.
“It’s not easy reading the greens here and therefore I was struggling to make putts in the first half of my round. Sometimes you need a little luck on the greens. Today I also found the right side of the holes and thus didn’t have too much of a problem with some of the tight pin positions.
“I’m very comfortable with my new 3-wood and have been striking it to over 280 yards. I’ve therefore used the driver only once in the first 36 holes. I don’t think I’ll need it in the last two rounds either since my 3-wood has been doing the job.
“I’ve been doing well with my new putter as I took 26 putts today. That’s been my putting average over the last few weeks on the Asian Tour as well,” added Chikka, a winner of nine titles, including two on the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
Sujjan Singh (66-70), the round one joint leader, hung on to his overnight position after a steady 70 that saw him make three birdies and a bogey.
Sujjan, also a winner on the ADT, looked set for the sole lead after he drained three birdie putts from 10 to 15 feet on the first 12 holes. However, a misjudgment of line on the 14th green led to his fourth three-putt of the tournament and resulted in a bogey.
“I had it under control till the seventh but lost my way between the eighth and the 14th. I didn’t hit it too well on that stretch and this course gets you if you do that. Nonetheless, I managed to keep it together at the end with pars on the last four holes,” said Sujjan.
He added, “It’s going to be a fun weekend with Chikka in top form. However, I’ll just be focusing on my game rather than thinking of anything else.”
Shubhankar Sharma lurks in third place as he followed up his first round 68 with a fighting 69. He almost holed out from 120 yards on the 18th where he picked up one of his four birdies.
Bengaluru amateur Jaibir Singh, playing at his home course, shot a second successive 69 to be two off the lead in tied fourth. The 26-year-old Jaibir, ranked India’s no. 2 amateur this year, seemed to have been inspired after playing his practice round alongside Indian star Jyoti Randhawa on Tuesday.
Jaibir’s spirited second round effort saw him land it within six feet on four occasions as he came up with six birdies against three bogeys.
Anura Rohana produced the day’s best score of 66 to move up from overnight tied 37th to tied fourth position.
Round one joint leader Abhijit Singh Chadha of Chandigarh slipped to tied fourth place after a 72 on day two. Bengaluru’s Rahil Gangjee (70) was also part of the quartet bunched together in tied fourth place.
Jyoti Randhawa (69-70) was one of six golfers in tied eighth place at five-under-139.
Fifteen-year-old Aadil Bedi of Chandigarh was the second amateur to make the cut. Aadil, one of India’s leading juniors, followed up his opening round 76 with a valiant 70 in round two to be tied 49th at two-over-146.