Macao, 20 Oct 2017

Indians dominate leaderboard at halfway stage of Macao Open

Gaganjeet Bhullar leads by four, Ajeetesh Sandhu in second

Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar stayed on course for his eighth Asian Tour title after he eagled the last hole for a superb six-under-65 and grabbed a four-shot halfway lead at the Macao Open on Friday.

The 29-year-old Bhullar (64-65) signalled his strong intentions to win the prestigious tournament for the second time in his career when he fired one eagle and five birdies against a bogey for a 13-under-129 total at the Macau Golf and Country Club.

It was a leaderboard dominated by Indians as Ajeetesh Sandhu (66-67), who won two events in the last two weeks, first on the Asian Tour and then on the Japan Challenge Tour, was sitting in second place at nine-under-133 at the US$500,000 full-field Asian Tour event.

Bhullar, who held a share of the overnight lead, rolled in four birdies to turn in 31. He picked up another birdie on 13 but stumbled with a lone bogey on 15 before bouncing back strongly with an eagle-three on 18. He amassed 25 putts in the round.

After a solid drive down the middle of the 18th fairway, the talented Indian hit a superb three-wood second shot from about 270 yards which hit the pin flag before settling two feet from the hole for a tap-in eagle.

Bhullar said, “The eagle on 18 was the most interesting part of my round. I hit my driver to the middle of the fairway and then a three-wood from about 270 yards which hit the pin before settling two feet from the hole for a tap-in eagle.

“It was good solid round. It was windy. It wasn’t easy. I thought it was slightly more difficult than yesterday. I made a good par save on the first hole and that kept me going. I was playing the right side of the fairway and I hit it into the bunker. From there, I hit it to the right of the green. I chipped it to about 10 feet and holed the par putt.

“I had a few other good birdies on fourth, seventh and 13 as well. They were all inside 10 feet. I hit the ball really good today. I struggled a bit with my driving but I kept the ball in play. I guess my past experiences of playing here have helped me today.

“I won’t be thinking about winning right now. The goal is to keep doing what I have been doing for the first two rounds. If I can do that, it will be fortunate for me. I had a miscalculation on 15 where I dropped my first shot of the week. I should have hit a lob wedge but I hit a sand wedge instead and three-putted from there.

“I just kept doing the same after that, nothing fancy. I just told myself to stick to my game plan and I had a good finish on 18.”

Bhullar’s compatriot Ajeetesh Sandhu continued his red-hot form to sign for a 67 and move into an outright second place, keeping up his chase for a third straight victory in three weeks 

“I started off quite bad. The wind was really gusting when I started this afternoon. I had a couple of loose shots and made bogeys but got it back on track after making some nice putts on holes four and six. I sank a 25-footer on four and a 15-footer on six. That set things back on track.

“I played pretty well on my back nine, the way I did yesterday. I just hit a lot of fairways and greens and made putts out there. I am pretty happy with how I played today. I knew it was going to be a very tough day because the wind was up. It was swirling and it was gusting and the course is really narrow.

“You have to be really patient and that’s all I want to do. I just wanted to get back on track and back to even par quickly. I wasn’t looking at the leaderboard. I just wanted to focus on my own game and play my best.

“I misjudged the wind on the 18. I thought it was left to right but it wasn’t. I hit it into the left rough, laid up from there and I had a perfect yardage from there. I hit a lob wedge to about six feet and made the putt for birdie.

“It’s going to be exciting tomorrow playing with Gaganjeet and Angelo Que. I am looking forward to it.”

Shubhankar Sharma’s (69-68) presence in tied fifth place at five-under-137 made it three Indians in the top-6.

The other Indians who made the halfway cut set at three-over-145 included Rashid Khan (tied 14th and two-under-140), Khalin Joshi, Chiragh Kumar and Chikkarangappa S (all tied 20th at one-under-141), Jyoti Randhawa (tied 39th at one-over-143), M Dharma (tied 53rd at two-over-144) and Himmat Rai (tied 60th at three-over-145).

Elsewhere, at the PGA Tour’s The CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges being played in Jeju Island, Korea, India’s Anirban Lahiri was tied 15th after two rounds as he totalled four-under-140. He trailed the leader Luke List of the United States by five shots.
Source: Asian Tour

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