Local lad Karandeep Kochhar moves into halfway lead with Chikkarangappa on day two; Chikka fires day’s best 66

Karandeep Kochhar Rd 2Chandigarh-based teenager Karandeep Kochhar kept local hopes alive on day two of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational 2018 presented by TAKE Solutions as he carded a round of two-under-70 to move into the joint halfway lead along with Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa who fired the second day’s best score of six-under-66 at the Chandigarh Golf Club.

Kochhar (66-70) and Chikka (70-66) were tied for the lead with a total eight-under-136 at the Rs. 1.5 crore event.

Gurgaon-based Indian great Jyoti Randhawa made major gains on Friday with a 68 that placed him third, just one off the lead, at seven-under-137.

Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh also shot the day’s best score of 66 to climb to tied fourth along with Bangladesh’s Md Siddikur Rahman (68) at six-under-138.

Round one leader Shiv Kapur, who matched the course record with his 65 on Thursday, slipped to tied 10th as his second round effort of 75 took his total to four-under-140.

Indian golf legend, tournament host and local favourite Jeev Milkha Singh missed the cut as he followed up his first round 77 with a 73 on Friday to total six-over-150.

The cut was declared at two-over-146. Fifty-four professionals and one amateur made the cut.

Karandeep Kochhar, who was overnight second, one off the lead, after a bogey-free first round, didn’t find the going as easy in round two. His second round was built around his superb putting since he produced a few errant shots off the tee.

Karandeep was even-par on the back-nine having made three birdies at the cost of a bogey and a double-bogey. The 19-year-old made a conversion each from 15 and 30 feet on the back-nine.

Kochhar, who at 17 became the youngest winner on the PGTI back in 2016 while still an amateur, then had a better front-nine where he added four birdies in exchange for two bogeys. He sank two more 15-footers in the second half of his round. The tall and lanky Karandeep was even-par through 16 holes before he signed off with a final flourish by sinking birdies on the last two holes.

Kochhar said, “I was in good rhythm in round one but today I had to grind it out. My ball-striking was not up to the mark but my putter kept me in the game. The pins were a little tougher today so scoring wasn’t that easy.

“I think I came back really well towards the end after pulling it into the hazard for a bogey on the seventh. I closed the round with birdies on the next two holes that really lifted my confidence.

“Last year I finished the tournament with an eight-under score to claim third place at the TAKE Open. However, this time around I’m already eight-under over the first two days. So that’s a big positive for me.

“I came into this event with scores of five-under and four-under in the previous two rounds at the Asian Tour event in Delhi. I feel I’ve carried forward that momentum into this week.”

Chikkarangappa zoomed from overnight tied 13th to the top of the leaderboard courtesy his fabulous 66. Chikka began the day with a bogey but then fought back with a 15-feet eagle conversion on the second that was the turning point of his round.

It was one-way traffic for Chikka from there on as he knocked in five birdies between the seventh and the 18th thanks to some exceptional wedge-play. He chipped-in for birdie on the 11th and left himself tap-in birdie putts on three other holes.

Chikka said, “I wasn’t swinging it well for some time but I feel that changed last week at the Panasonic Open India where I finished in the top-20 after shooting four under-par rounds at the Delhi Golf Club for the first time. I’m shaping the ball more consistently now.

“I haven’t made too many putts so far this week as I’ve not been able to read the greens. My good wedge shots set up a few birdies for me today.”

Jyoti Randhawa (69-68), who has also found his swing tempo this week, rose four positions from his overnight tied seventh as a result of six birdies and two bogeys.

Sujjan Singh’s 66 catapulted him 27 places to tied fourth. He dropped a shot on the 14th on day two but then rallied with four successive birdies from the 16th to the first. He went on to pick up three more strokes between the fifth and the ninth to rise into contention on his home turf.

Khalin Joshi, a winner on the Asian Tour last week, posted a second straight 70 to be tied 10th at four-under-140 along with Shiv Kapur.

Kapur dropped three bogeys and a double-bogey while he could manage only two birdies during his 75.

Chandigarh’s Anant Singh Ahlawat was the only amateur to make the cut. He was in tied 39th at one-over-145.

SSP Chawrasia fired a 77 in round two to be placed tied 48th at two-over-146.

Jeev Milkha Singh’s 73 on Friday featured three birdies and four bogeys. He missed the cut by four shots.