Carding his tenth sub-par round since the restart of the professional golf in India, Chandigarh golfer 30-year-old Akshay Sharma grabbed a one-shot lead after the second round of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational presented by Take Sports being played at Chandigarh Golf Club on Friday. Sharma, who had won the PGTI Players Championship last month, climbed one spot on the leaderboard on Friday with a second round of four-under-68 to follow his opening round score of five-under-67 and was leading the duo of Noida golfer Amardeep Malik and Delhi golfer Veer Ahlawat.
While Sharma had started his first round from the front-nine, Friday saw Sharma starting from the back-nine and the caddie-turned-golfer sank five birdies and dropped one bogey in his round to claim the lead on Friday. While Sharma had made a bogey on the tenth hole in the opening round, Sharma made a par on the tenth hole on Friday before missing out on a chance for hole-in one on the 204-yard 11th hole before making a birdie. Sharma would then sink four more birdies and a par over the next seven holes before making all pars on the front-nine. “As compared to the opening round, I hit the ball really well today. In the morning there was some dew on the course but there was almost no wind as compared to the first round. So I wanted to take advantage and the five birdies on the back-nine gave me a lot of confidence. During the front-nine, there was little wind and I am glad that I managed pars and built a one-shot lead at the end of the day. The key for the next two rounds will be to hit the ball well and avoid errors,” shared Sharma, who had overall score of nine-under-135.
The 35-year-old Aamardeep Malik climbed two places in the leaderboard on Friday as he carded a second successive round of four-under-68 to be placed tied-second along with Veer Ahlawat. While Thursday had seen Malik sinking five birdies and one bogey, Friday saw him sinking six birdies and two bogeys in his round. Malik, who too started his round from the back-nine, hit 12 greens in regulations and believes that making some good par-saves helped his cause on Friday. “The 15-footer conversion on the 12th hole to make par was a crucial one and it made me find my rhythm. Making a birdie on the 13th hole, where I made a bogey on the first day, helped my confidence and to finish the back-nine with one-under was the key. Sinking three birdies out of the first four holes on the relatively tough front-nine put me in a good position. I believe the par saves on the seventh hole and ninth hole were crucial as I ended the day with only one shot behind the leader,’ shared Mailk.
Ahlawat, who too climbed two spots in the leaderboard on Friday after an identical round of four-under-68, had an average back-nine as he made two bogeys at the start of his round. But the Delhi golfer sank six birdies on the front-nine to remain in contention for the title. “While I started the round in the morning, wind had picked up during the last six holes on the front-nine today. To make birdies in such conditions boosted my chances to remain in contention. I have been making some changes in my swing recently and to have a round like this always puts you in right frame of mind. Hitting the ball well off the tee will be the key here in the last two rounds and I will aim to do that,” said Ahlawat.
The 18-year-old Delhi golfer, Harshjeet Singh Sethie, climbed six spots on the leaderboard with a second round of five-under-67 to be placed fourth and trailing the leader by two shots while Anirban Lahiri carded a round of four-under-68 to be placed tied-fifth along with C Muniyappa, Udayan Mane, and Khalin Joshi. Chandigarh golfer Karandeep Kochhar carded the day’s best round with a round of six-under-66 to climb 58 spots on the leaderboard to be placed tied-18th. Tournament host Jeev Milkha Singh missed the cut with a second round of five-over-77 to finish tied 75th and bow out of the tournament.
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