Chandigarh’s Shubhankar Sharma kept up the intensity for the second day running to continue in the joint lead at the Rs. 1 crore TAKE Open Golf Championship being played at the Chandigarh Golf Club. Shubhankar, who posted a two-under-70 in round two, was joined by Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj at the top of the leaderboard as the latter carded a five-under-67.
Shubhankar and Divyanshu had a two-day tally of six-under-138 and thus led the field by one shot.
Akshay Sharma (71), another Chandigarh golfer, occupied tied third place along with Noida’s Rahul Bajaj (67) at five-under-139.
The cut fell at two-over-146. Fifty-three professionals made the cut. Chandigarh’s Jeev Milkha Singh, one of the pre-tournament favourites, missed the cut by one shot.
Shubhankar Sharma (68-70) was in good ball-striking form just like the first round and managed to keep the errors out. The 21-year-old scored his first birdie on the 17th, his eighth hole, and then went on to pick up two more strokes on the second and third. A missed opportunity from four feet cost him his only bogey of the day on the fifth.
Shubhankar, who won his first title on the PGTI at age 17 back in 2014, said, “I hit it just as well as yesterday but would’ve been happier with a few more conversions on the greens. Importantly, I created a lot of birdie opportunities for myself.
“It’s not easy reading the greens here. But I should’ve read the lines better as I’ve played a lot of golf here. Now I just want to concentrate on my putting. If I hole a few more on the greens, I think I can really post a four to five under in round three since I’m hitting it well.”
Divyanshu Bajaj (71-67) zoomed from overnight tied 17th to joint first after firing the day’s best score of 67. Divyanshu began his ascent by sinking three birdies from a range of 10 to 15 feet on the back-nine. His eagle on the second propelled him further up the leaderboard.
Bajaj, who had a top-5 finish at the Asian Tour event played in Bengaluru in August, dropped his only shot of the day on the sixth. But he quickly came back with an excellent tee shot on the eighth that led to a tap-in birdie.
Bajaj said, “I hit the ball better and made more putts today as compared to round one. My friend and fellow professional Viraj gave me some sound advice on my swing before this event and that has really helped me.
“I’ve been patchy so far this season. My game’s there but I just hope to get more consistent. I need to believe in myself now. My iron-play is my strength at the moment.”
Rahul Bajaj made six birdies and a bogey in his round of 67, the day’s joint best, to move up 26 places to tied third. Local lad Akshay Sharma also took a share of third to make it two Chandigarh golfers in the top four.
The three other Chandigarh-based professionals in the top-10 were Abhijit Singh Chadha, Karandeep Kochhar and Sujjan Singh. The local trio was in tied ninth with matching scores of three-under-141. Kapurthala’s Ashbeer Saini also occupied tied ninth place.
Among the prominent names, Delhi’s Rashid Khan (71) was joint 13th at two-under-142 while Gurgaon-based Jyoti Randhawa (72) closed the day in tied 28th at even-par-144.
Dipankar Kaushal of Noida, the joint round one leader, slipped to tied 28th on day two after a round of 76 took his total to even-par-144.
The star attraction of the tournament and local favourite Jeev Milkha Singh (75-72) missed the cut by one stroke as his two-day total read three-over-147 and placed him tied 54th.
Jeev said, “I suffered due to a bad start for the second day in succession. I did manage to pull it back well with a three-under on the back-nine. However, I need to do a lot of work with my driver and improve on my tee shots that have let me down this week.”