PGTI Order of Merit leader Shamim Khan of Delhi and Panchkula’s Angad Cheema emerged halfway leaders at the Pune Open 2017 after both shot second round scores of three-under-68 at the Poona Club Golf Course on Friday. The duo led the field by one stroke at five-under-137.
The cut was set at two-over-73 with 54 professionals making it to the money rounds.
Angad Cheema (69-68) gained four places from his overnight tied fifth place as a result of his 68 in round two. Angad, a former winner on the PGTI, didn’t have the best of starts as he dropped two strokes on the first three holes. The 27-year-old rallied with five birdies thereafter.
After a couple of good chip-putt birdies on the seventh and ninth, Cheema, drove the green on the par-4 10th to set up his third birdie of the day. Two birdie conversions from seven to 10 feet on the 13th and 14th elevated Angad to joint first. The Panchkula lad, however, missed out on taking the sole lead when he three-putted for par on the closing 18th.
“I’ve played really well on the first two days but on both days there’s been one stretch that has troubled me and that’s the first three holes. I bogeyed those three holes yesterday and today again I bogeyed the second and third. I really need to improve on that stretch and play it smarter there,” said the lanky Cheema.
He added, “I’ve been working on figuring out a few things with my coach. I’ve worked on my swing and my consistency. I’ve shot one good score and then not been able to repeat that effort in the following rounds in recent events. I’m now more confident when swinging a club.
“I’ve hit 14 to 15 greens in regulation on each of the first two days. I would like to continue doing the same in the next two rounds. However, I need to watch out on the first three holes.”
Shamim Khan (69-68), like Cheema, also followed up his first round 69 with a 68 on day two to move up four places to joint first. Shamim, who won the last PGTI event staged at the Poona Club Golf Course in 2012, made steady progress through the day.
He picked up two birdies on his back-nine, the second of which was from 20 feet, before adding two more on the first and seventh. The approach on the first was the highlight of his round as he landed it within a foot from a distance of 175 yards. Khan’s only blemish was the three-putt for bogey on the eighth.
Shamim, who won in Kolkata last month, said, “I’ve won here before so that will be a big psychological advantage for me going into the last two rounds. I struggled a bit yesterday since chipping was tougher in the afternoon with the greens being faster. But it was a better round today.
“I quite enjoy playing at this course as the layout and the shape of the holes suit my game. I played some terrific approach shots today that set up many scoring opportunities. It’s been a very consistent season for me so far and I would like to keep it going,” added Shamim, who has a win and four other top-5s to his credit from the six starts this season.
Patna’s Aman Raj shot the day’s joint best score of five-under-66 to share third place with Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (70) at four-under-138.
Viraj Madappa of Kolkata, one shot behind in tied fifth, was the other player who fired a 66 on Friday. He shared fifth place with round one leader Sudhir Sharma (72) of Greater Noida and three others at three-under-139.
The Chandigarh duo of defending champion Harendra Gupta (74) and KPS Sekhon (74) slipped from overnight tied second to tied 18th at even-par-142. Bengaluru’s Udayan Mane was also in tied 18th place.
The two Pune-based professionals who made the cut, were Saurabh Bhaduri, who was placed tied 25th at one-over-143, and Sameer M Shaikh, who was a further shot back in tied 31st. Mumbai’s Anil Bajrang Mane occupied tied 39th place at three-over-145.