Indian golfer Rashid grabs halfway lead at Taiwan Masters

Taipei, Oct 2 (IANS) Young Indian golfer Rashid Khan battled against the gusty wind to grab the halfway lead after signing for a two-under 70 in the $650,000 Mercuries Taiwan Masters at the Taiwan Golf and Country Club’s Tamsui course here on Friday.

Two-time winner on the Asian Tour, Rashid overcame a double-bogey on the first hole with six birdies against two bogeys to stay one shot ahead of playing partner and overnight leader Danny Chia of Malaysia on six-under 138 total.

Filipino veteran Antonio Lascuna posted a 71 to settle four shots back in third place with China’s Liang Wen-chong (73), Sri Lankan Mithun Perera (72), Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman (74) and local hotshot Pan Cheng-tsung (72) at the long-running Asian Tour event.

Despite getting off to a dismal start, Rashid kept his head up and bounced back strongly with three straight birdies starting from the fifth. He dropped a shot on ninth before adding three birdies against a bogey on his way home.

“I started really bad. I made a double-bogey on the first hole. I hit it into the bunker and three-putted on the green. It was very disappointing but I didn’t let it affect me. I holed a 15-footer on the next hole for par and gained a little confidence from there,” the 24-year-old said in a release.

“The three straight birdies really got my game going. I told my caddy if I can shoot three or four-under par, it will be great. I kept the ball in play on the back nine and I am happy with where I stand, given the tough conditions out there,” said Rashid, who ended his round on a sweet note when he sank a six-foot birdie putt on the par-four 18th.

The Delhi-based golfer, however, conceded that he would need to rediscover some magic in his putter should he wish to maintain his lead.

“Overall, I feel confident with my game but my short game just wasn’t as good today. I three-putted three times today and my chipping was not good too. I am going to work on my short game so I can have more control on my distance in the next two rounds,” he lamented.

Chia, who recently earned his spot in the lucrative CIMB Classic next month, dug deep to mix his card with two birdies against two bogeys. He got a 72.

Among other Indians in the fray, Gaganjeet Bhullar (72), S. Chikka (76), Himmat Rai (75) and Chiragh Kumar (71) made the halfway cut that fell at six-over 150. They shared the 26th spot, while Arjun Atwal, Rahil Gangjee and Angad Cheema missed the cut.

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