TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship: Angad Cheema grabs halfway lead

Angad Cheema Round 2Panchkula: The second round of the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship Presented by Panchkula Golf Club belonged to players from the Chandigarh Capital Region as Panchkula’s Angad Cheema grabbed the lead with a five-under-67 while rookie Yuvraj Singh Sandhu from neighbouring Chandigarh shot the day’s best score of seven-under-65 to move into second place.

Twenty-nine-year-old Angad Cheema, looking to win his first title since 2013, took his tournament tally to 10-under-134 at his home course on Wednesday and thus enjoyed a two-shot advantage over 22-year-old Yuvraj Singh Sandhu.

Angad Cheema (67-67), lying one shot behind the lead in joint second place on day one, made a terrific start on day two with a 40-feet eagle putt from the edge of the green on the par-4 first hole. Angad’s bogey on the fourth didn’t dampen his spirits as he picked up birdies on the next three holes and added two more on the 11th and 12th.

Cheema hit rough weather on the 15th and 16th where he dropped a double-bogey and a bogey respectively. On the 15th he found the bunker and then the hazard while on the 16th his tee shot landed at the base of a tree. However, the tall and lanky golfer, who had an Asian Tour card few years back, pulled it back on the last two holes by setting up birdie putts within four feet of the pin.

Angad said, “I struck it well and also made most putts today. Looking back I feel that I made just one big mistake on the 15th where I had a chance for birdie. But I’m glad to have closed the round on a high. I know the course well as I play here often so that definitely will be an advantage over the last two days.

“I had a tied sixth finish at the last PGTI event in April so I feel I can now put four good rounds together and sustain the intensity through a tournament. I feel the positive energy in my game once again.

“I will need to be precise with my hitting over the next two days as a few yards here and there could be very punishing on this course.”

Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (71-65) fired the best round of the tournament so far and as a result gained 22 spots from his overnight tied 24th. Yuvraj had a nervous start making bogey on the opening 10th. He was on a roll thereafter as he knocked in nine birdies at the expense of just one more bogey to end up with a total of eight-under-136.

Sandhu, who was India’s number one amateur in 2016, made some top-class chip-putts and landed his approach shots within a couple of feet of the flag on the 16th and ninth. His approach shot from 70 yards lipped out on the 16th.

Yuvraj said, “I’m sticking to my process and not trying to play against the wind. One can’t afford to go against the wind at this course. I feel chipping and putting will hold the key over the last two days. Whoever chips and putts the best will win the tournament.

“I started the year well with a couple of top-20s but then had a bad stretch during the Kolkata and Pune events. But now I feel I’m settling down and my graph is moving up steadily.”

Rashid Khan of Delhi, the round one leader, slipped to tied third at seven-under-137 after a round of 71.

Mukesh Kumar (67) of Mhow too took a share of third. He gained 14 places from his overnight tied 17th.

Jyoti Randhawa was tied 26th at even-par-144 after he shot a second straight 72.

Defending champion N Thangaraja (70) of Sri Lanka was also in tied 26th.

The cut went at two-over-146. Fifty-eight professionals made the cut.