Australian golfer Pilkadaris leads by three shots at Indian Open

New Delhi, March 18 (IANS) Australia’s golfer Terry Pilkadaris fired a superb second round eight-under 64 to lead by three shots over home favourite S.S.P. Chawrasia at the $1.66 million Hero Indian Open here on Friday.

Pilkadaris, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour but not since 2005, reeled in nine birdies to stay ahead of a battling Chawrasia and Nacho Elvira of Spain, who returned with a 67 and 68 respectively at the challenging Delhi Golf Club.

David Lipsky (67) of the United States, the 2014 Order of Merit winner, and Ben Evans (66) of England shared fourth place on 136 in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Lee Slattery of England produced the shot of the day when his three-wood second shot found the back of the cup for a magical albatross on the par-five eighth hole. It was his career’s first albatross and the Asian Tour’s 21st.

Pilkadaris was delighted to bounce back into form after missing four cuts in five appearances early this year due to a back injury.

“I had a trapped intercostal nerve in my back. I was moving furniture during Christmas time and hurt my back. That’s taken quite a while to recover. It was a rookie mistake and I’m no rookie so I should be shot for that one!” said Pilkadaris.

Playing without any injury concerns, the Australian took advantage of his past experience of playing at the tree-lined Delhi course where he sank 25 putts and dropped only one shot after hitting his tee shot into the bushes on the last hole.

Chawrasia, a four-time runner-up at the Hero Indian Open, produced an eye-catching performance in a round of six birdies, two of which came from the bushes on the 11th and 14th holes.

“My putting saved me, no doubt. Hitting was also not bad, but whenever I got into a sticky situation, my putting saw me through.

“I just focused on my game. Before the start I saw that Terry Pilkadaris has shot a really low score, but I pushed all that out of my mind and stayed focused on my game. It’s not an easy thing to do, but you can’t let these things to play on your mind,” said Chawrasia.

After finishing tied 25th in Thailand last week, Rashid Khan of India battled to a 68 and will need to improve on his approach shots to give himself a fighting chance to challenge for a third Asian Tour title.

Defending champion and reigning Asian Tour number one Lahiri fired a 71 to sit in 14th place, seven shots behind Pilkadaris.

The halfway cut was set on even-par 144 with a total of 74 players qualifying for the weekend. Padraig Harrington, a three-time Major champion, will miss the last two rounds after finishing one-shot outside the cutline.

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