McLeod Russel golf: Randhawa takes four-shot halfway lead

Kolkata, Dec 25 (IANS) Ace golfer Jyoti Randhawa’s campaign at the Rs 1.5 crore prize money McLeod Russel Tour Championship took flight with a sizzling seven-under-65 in round two at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club here on Friday.

The Gurgaon-based Indian great thus established a commanding four-stroke lead with a two-day total of 11-under-133 at the season-ending event of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

The Bengaluru duo of Khalin Joshi and S. Chikka were next best on the leaderboard at seven-under-137.

Randhawa (68-65) soared to the top thanks to the tournament’s best round so far which featured an impressive two eagles, four birdies and a bogey.

The 43-year-old, who as joint overnight leader along with four others, came out all guns blazing during the day as he made two chip-ins in quick succession on the second and fourth holes, the first for a birdie and the second for an eagle.

Randhawa, a winner of nine international titles, made his only error on a windy day on the 10th where he overshot the green with his approach and as a result dropped a bogey. He then collected his day’s second eagle on the 15th and three more birdies on the last seven holes to end up with a seven-under.

The 2002 Asian Tour champion landed his second shot within six feet for eagle on the par-5 15th before signing off with a 12-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.

Randhawa, who won his last title in March 2012, said, “I sorted out some errors in my hitting today and was swinging it well. I capitalised on both the par-5s with eagles. I felt I played the stretch from the 15th to 18th really well. It was a very satisfying round.”

Khalin (70-67), a winner on the PGTI this year, sought to put behind the disappointment of recently missing out on his Asian Tour exemption by two spots, with a solid 67 that included seven birdies and two bogeys.

“I haven’t been striking it well but my putter was hot today. I made three long birdie putts from 15 to 20 feet. I still feel I need to hit it closer to stay in the hunt this week. Jyoti will be the man to catch since he’s playing really well,” said Khalin, who climbed four places from his overnight tied sixth.

Chikka (68-69), the overnight joint leader, mixed five birdies with two bogeys for his 69 to drop to joint second. Chikka, placed second in the Rolex Ranking, however, is still on course for the Rolex Player of the Year title as the leader Mukesh Kumar (73) of Mhow lies a distant tied 20th at one-under-143.

Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee, who was part of the five-way lead in round one, slipped to tied fourth at six-under-138 after his second round of 70. Om Prakash Chouhan (68) of Mhow shared fourth place with Gangjee.

Defending champion Shankar Das of Kolkata was bunched together with the Noida duo of Gaurav Pratap Singh and Amardip Sinh Malik in tied sixth at five-under 139.

The Kolkata duo of former champion S.S.P. Chawrasia (72) and Divyanshu Bajaj (70) were joint 14th along with four others at two-under 142.

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