Ashbeer Saini fires second straight 65 for clubhouse lead in Rd2

Ashbeer-Saini-2Pahalgam: Ashbeer Saini of Kapurthala emerged as the clubhouse leader in round two of the J&K Bank PGTI Pahalgam Masters presented by KEO. Saini returned a second consecutive five-under-65 to take the clubhouse lead at the Lidder Valley Golf Course with a 10-under-130 total as it drizzled through the day. Pune’s Aditya Bhandarkar was in second place, one shot off the lead.

Round one, which could not be completed on Wednesday due to the rain interruption, was completed on Thursday morning by the remaining sixty players. The first half of round two got over by 4 pm local time on Thursday. Sixty players had finished their second round by 4 pm while the remaining sixty-five players were still on the course and unlikely to finish their rounds on Thursday.

Ashbeer Saini (65-65) posted a second straight 65 on day two to be the leader in the clubhouse. Saini sank six birdies and dropped a lone bogey in round two to emerge as a major contender. The 21-year-old, who draws inspiration from another Kapurthala golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar, knocked down four birdies from a range of 10 to 30 feet in round two.

Saini said, “I putted really well in both the rounds. I had to complete 24 holes today but didn’t feel tired as I was playing well. The first two rounds have put me in a great position. I’ve been close to winning on several occasions in the past but now I feel that a win is just around the corner as my consistency has improved this year. There are a few challenges when you play in rain as the course plays longer and it becomes difficult to grip the club. One needs to adapt quickly in such a situation. I think I adapted well enough to post two good scores.”

Aditya Bhandarkar (65-66) of Pune followed up his first round 65 with a 64 in round two to be placed second. Bhandarkar, who recently had two top-20 finishes on the PGTI Feeder Tour, came up with six birdies against two bogeys in the second round.

“My good performances on the Feeder Tour have just lifted my game. The round of six-under in Karnal gave me a lot of confidence. I need to be patient now and convert all the opportunities that come my way,” said Bhandarkar.

Delhi golfers Shamim Khan and Manav Jaini carded successive scores of 66 to be tied third at eight-under along with round one leader Pawan Verma, another Delhi golfer, who is yet to complete round two.

Delhi’s Rashid Khan, the reigning Rolex Rankings champion, shot the day’s best score of seven-under-63 to be joint sixth at seven-under-133 along with Abhinav Lohan, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Ranjit Singh and Harish K.

Naman Dawar of Delhi fired a hole-in-one on the 15th during his second round of 66. Dawar’s six-iron tee shot landed one foot short of the hole before ending up in the cup. Naman is currently in tied 11th place at six-under-134.

Rashid Khan wants friend Pawan Verma to do well

Rashid Khan, who shot the day’s best, a bogey-free 63, is looking forward to his close friend and round one leader Pawan Verma performing well at Pahalgam.

Rashid said, “I’m here to compete hard but if there’s one player who I really hope does well and maybe even goes onto win, is my close friend Pawan Verma. I’ve known Pawan well for quite a few years and have seen the ups and downs in his playing career. Now that he’s shot an eight-under in the opening round, I’m hopeful he’ll make an impact this week.

“Pawan is also very temperamental like me and gets angry when he’s not playing well. I’ve asked him to stay calm and patient this week. I look forward to seeing him in the leader group on the final day,” added Rashid.