Panasonic Open: Shiv Kapur shares lead; four Indians feature in Top-10

Shiv Kapur CIMB classic 26Gurugram: Shiv Kapur continued from where he left off last week in Thailand, as he carded a second straight five-under 67 to grab a share of the three-way lead at the Panasonic Open India here on Saturday.

Though play began on the dot at 7 am for the first time this week, the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes. The third and final round will be played from two tees.

The cut fell at one-under with 67 players making it, of them as many as 30 were Indians.

At the end of a long day, Kapur at 10-under shared the lead with two Australians, Adam Blyth (71-63), who is here this week on an invite, and the seasoned Terry Pilkadaris (68-66), whose last Asian Tour win came way back in Brunei in 2005. It was the last of his three Asian Tour wins.

Kapur found a second wind in his career in 2017 when he had three wins, two of them on Asian Tour including the Panasonic Open India at his home club, the Delhi Golf Club. He had a third win, the Royal Cup, but it was then not on the Asian Tour schedule.

“That (season) gave me a fresh lease but I did not have a great 2018. And 2019 was disappointing till last week,” said Kapur, whose best in 2018 was second at the 2018 Royal Cup, when it came on to the Asian Tour schedule.

Giving Kapur company in Top-10 were three other Indians - Rashid Khan (67-70), S Chikkarangappa (69-68) and Vikrant  Chopra (67-70) at seven-under at Tied-sixth place.

Kapur said, “I played really well today. Conditions were tough, it was really, really greasy. The conditions were very different to how they were on Thursday. I had really good control over the ball, hit it beautifully all day. It was always going to be tough to make a lot of birdies but I seemed to come out of firing.”

Kapur made a great par save on second, about which he said, “In a way that gave me the momentum. After that I hit just one poor shot all day which was a six-foot putt on the 14th. The bogey (on eighth) that I made was because I misjudged the wind and the ball came up a yard short and it plugged in the lip of the bunker. Barring that I didn’t really hit any poor shot so I’m really happy at the way I controlled the ball in the wind.”

Kapur birdied four in five holes with birdies on third, fourth, sixth and seventh. He again had a birdie on ninth after a bogey on eighth. On the back nine he birdied 13th and parred all others.

He added, “Last week was a long one for me with the playoff. In a way I had to come back today and refocus as if the tournament started all over again. It felt like playing two first rounds and not the middle of a tournament. Not playing on Friday gave me a nice rest.”

Blyth has been playing on the Asian Development Tour this year and till last year was dividing his time between Asian, ADT and Australasian Tours. He won twice in Australia in 2016.

Blyth had a great front nine with four birdies and he got hot on the back nine with five-under 31. “I’ve been playing well of late and it was fantastic to see the putts going in today. In the middle of my back-nine, I got hot and went on a birdie run and it was nice to finish off with another birdie on the last”, said Blyth.

Pilkadaris left a few birdies out there but did birdie four times. The big positive was that he did not drop any bogeys. “It was very windy out there today with lots of cross winds which made scoring difficult. But I played nicely, bogey-free, so no complaints.”

Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, who has finished runner-up in this event thrice, was bogey free in his 67 and reached eight-under and was two behind the leading trio. Also at eight-under was Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao (69).