The race for the top-spot heated up as two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan fired in an eight-under 64 to storm into joint lead with Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul midway into the McLeod Russel Tour Championship 2016 here today. Delhi lad Rashid and Pariya, who shot a four-under-68, opened up a four-shot lead at the top with their total scores reading 10-under 134.
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Rashid and Pariya, who have mutual admiration for each other, would be the ones to watch out for in the next two days at the Royal Calcutta Golf Course.
Showering praise on Khan, Pariya said: “He’s really good hands and you learn a lot watching him play. A definite shotmaker, he’s one for the future. I’m really looking forward to the next two rounds.”
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh sank the second hole-in-one of the tournament during his second round of 70 to join local favourite SSP Chawrasia (68), Rolex Ranking leader Shubhankar Sharma (68) of Panchkula and Noida’s Amardip Sinh Malik (70) at six-under-138 in the third place.
Tied seventh and four off the lead after round one, Khan (70-64) found his way to the top of the pack with an error-free 64 that featured an eagle and six birdies.
Currently fourth in the Rolex Ranking in the Order of Merit, Rashid has now received a shot in the arm for his aspiration to be the PGTI No. 1 of 2016.
Khan made early inroads today, sinking an eagle and two birdies on the first five holes. He drained a 20-feet eagle putt on the par-5 fourth.
A double winner on the PGTI this year, Khan carried on the good work on the back-nine by adding four more birdies to his card.
He landed it within a foot on the 12th, sank a 35-footer on the next and also capitalised with a birdie on the second par-5, the 15th.
Khan, who ended up one short of his 2014 course record of 63, said, “I was quite confident coming into this event as I had a runner-up finish last week in Jamshedpur.
“I had a really good start today, unlike round one, and that made a huge difference. Importantly, I capitalised on both the par-5s on this course by making an eagle on one and birdie on the other. I’m quite at home at this course as I hold the joint course record here. So that will definitely be at the back of my mind in the next two rounds,” Khan said.
“This season I’ve struggled with some injuries thereby playing fewer events on the both the Asian Tour and the PGTI. But I feel the game is getting better each week. It will be fun playing alongside Pariya tomorrow as both of us have played together many times on the Asian Tour before.”
Round one leader Pariya (66-68) shared the second round lead with Khan after a clinical 68 that included five birdies and a bogey.
Pariya was one-under through the front-nine and then made a move on the back-nine with three long birdie conversions. His 25-footer for birdie on the last hole helped him end the day in the joint lead along with Khan.
Local favourite and winner of the inaugural edition in 2012, SSP Chawrasia, moved up from tied seventh to tied third after a 68 on day two.
Rolex Ranking leader Sharma and Amardip Sinh Malik, who had a hole-in-one on day one, joined Chawrasia and Ranjit in tied third at six-under-138.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (69), Jyoti Randhawa (69), Khalin Joshi (72) and Sanjeev Kumar (69) occupied joint seventh place at five-under 139. Jeev Milkha Singh slipped from overnight tied fifth to the 11th spot after a sedate 71. His total stood at four-under-140.
Shiv Kapur (70) was a further shot back in tied 12th. The Kolkata duo of Rahil Gangjee (71) and Arjun Atwal (73) were placed tied 22nd at even-par-144 and tied 31st at two-over-146 respectively.