Harendra Gupta takes route 63 to the top, enjoys one-shot halfway lead with second straight error-free round
SSP Chawrasia scorches the course with an astonishing 11-under-61 to move into second
Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta came up with a remarkable nine-under-63, his second straight bogey-free round, to make his way to the top of the leaderboard at 17-under-127 at the end of day two of the TATA Steel Tour Championship 2020 being played at the Beldih and Golmuri golf courses in Jamshedpur.
Kolkata-based Indian star SSP Chawrasia, a three-time winner in Jamshedpur, fired the best round of the tournament so far, an astonishing 11-under-61, to move into second place at 16-under-128 at the Rs. 1.5 crore PGTI event.
Noida’s Amardeep Malik, also error-free for the tournament so far, produced a 66 to be placed third at 15-under-129 at the halfway stage. Bengaluru's Chikkarangappa, the round one leader, slipped to fourth place at 14-under-130 after a round of 68 on Friday.
Gaganjeet Bhullar, one of the star attractions this week, shot a 63 to move up to tied fifth at 12-under-132 along with Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (67) and Delhi’s Arjun Prasad (68).
The halfway cut went at two-under-142 and 53 professionals made it to the money rounds.
After one half of the field played their 18 holes at Beldih Golf Club while the other half played at Golmuri Golf Club in round one, both halves of the field switched venues in round two. In the third and fourth rounds, all players will now play their first nine holes at Golmuri and second nine holes at Beldih.
Harendra Gupta (64-63) recorded the joint best score at Golmuri in round two. Gupta, who played through pain and was limping during his first round due to a groin injury suffered on the ninth tee, was in a much better physical condition on day two.
The 36-year-old Harendra, a five-time winner on the PGTI, reaped the rewards of some accurate hitting with early birdies on the second, third and fourth, finding the edge of the green with his drive on the fourth.
However, it was the back-nine where Gupta really turned it on as he picked up an eagle on the 12th and four more birdies. One of the highlights of his round was the birdie on the 15th where he made an excellent recovery from the trees with a brilliant seven-iron second shot that landed 12 feet from the pin.
Gupta said, “Beldih is the tougher course to score on so I feel I had an advantage having started with an eight-under at Beldih in round one. In fact, I feel my injury was a blessing in disguise as it helped me focus better in round one.
“I tended to my injury with some warm compress last evening so there was no pain today and I felt much better on the course. I’ve not struck such low numbers in a long time so I’m quite pleased with my effort so far. I began the day by missing a four feet putt for eagle on the second but thereafter everything went perfectly for me. I struck my four-iron and five-iron really well and did not leave myself many long putts.
“Tee shots will be the key going forward and one will also need to adapt well to the different challenges posed by the two courses. While Beldih has smaller greens it also has wider fairways as compared to Golmuri,” added Harendra whose last top-10 came a year and a half back.
SSP Chawrasia (67-61) put up some amazing numbers during his second round at Beldih to take the tournament by storm. Chawrasia, who was tied 13th and five off the lead on day one, came up with two eagles, nine birdies and two bogeys on Friday. He found 12 out of 14 fairways, made 17 greens in regulation and had a total of 25 putts.
SSP began the day with a terrific seven-iron tee shot on the par-3 first hole which almost resulted in a hole-in-one. Thereafter he went on to make five conversions from a range of 10 to 20 feet. His two eagles came on the third and 12th, one was a six-feet conversion and the other a 15-footer.
Chawrasia said, “It’s the lowest number I’ve ever shot. After being three-under on the first three holes I knew I was looking at a really low number but I could’ve never imagined a score of 11-under. On day one the putts didn’t roll in for me but today everything seemed to find the hole. My driving, approach shots and chipping was also near-perfect. It was one of those days when everything just worked out wonderfully.
“My past experience of playing over these two courses on the same day and winning will definitely help me going into the last two rounds,” added SSP, who admits his energy levels are still hampered by the after-effects of Covid-19 despite having fully recovered from it back in August this year.
Among the other prominent names, Jyoti Randhawa (65), Rahil Gangjee (64), PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar (68) and Akshay Sharma (63) were all tied eighth at 11-under-133, Anirban Lahiri (69) was a further shot back in 12th, Rashid Khan (64) was tied 14th at eight-under-136 while Shiv Kapur (69) was tied 19th at seven-under-137.
The 2019 champion Udayan Mane missed the cut having totaled even-par-144 over the first two days.
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