Gaganjeet Bhullar maintains two-shot advantage at halfway stage
Rahil Gangjee shoots personal best of 10-under 62, shares second place with Angad Cheema
Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar maintained his two-shot advantage after signing for a six-under 66 in round two of the INR 3 crore TATA Steel Tour Championship 2023, the TATA Steel PGTI’s season-ending event being played at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses in Jamshedpur. Gaganjeet’s (64-66) total at the halfway stage read 14-under 130.
Rahil Gangjee (70-62) shot a personal best of 10-under 62 to move up 21 spots into tied second place at 12-under 132. Gangjee, who scored 10 birdies on the day, thus matched the previous best score achieved in a combined round at Beldih and Golmuri golf courses. Khalin Joshi and Chikkarangappa S had previously fired scores of 10-under 62 in combined rounds at both courses at the TATA Steel Tour Championship during the 2020 and 2022 editions respectively.
Angad Cheema (66-66) carded a second straight 66 to continue in tied second place.
The first two rounds of the richest event on the PGTI saw one half of the field play their first nine holes at Golmuri Golf Course and second nine at Beldih Golf Course while the other half of the field played Beldih first followed by Golmuri. This format will also be followed for the next two rounds of the tournament in Jamshedpur with the par for the round being 72. The leading groups will start at Golmuri and finish at Beldih.
Gaganjeet Bhullar, a 12-time international winner, continued his impressive run with an error-free 66. He made birdies on four out of the five par-5s and drove the green on the par-4 fourth to set up another birdie. Bhullar’s sixth birdie was a 15-feet conversion.
Gaganjeet, the 2020 champion, said, “I drove it well, only missing two fairways. I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I missed a few short putts in Beldih, other than that it was a solid round. Importantly, I’ve been capitalizing on the par-5s therefore giving myself some eagle opportunities.
“At the back of my mind, I still have the good memories from 2020, which always helps. I’ve also been in a good rhythm, having won in Asia recently. My driving and putting is right up there at the moment and I’ve just dropped one bogey so far this week. The goal is to repeat what I did in the first two rounds and try to repeat the routine and process for the next 36 holes.”
Rahil Gangjee was on fire on the front-nine at Golmuri as he picked up seven birdies there. He hit a couple of great bunker shots and landed it within five feet on three occasions on the front-nine. Gangjee also made two long conversions on the front-nine. The three-time international winner went on to add three more birdies on the back-nine at Beldih.
Rahil said, “I never shot a score of 10-under before in a tournament. Nine-under has been my previous best. So, this round is quite special. The mantra for today after the first nine holes was to stay out of my own head and stay out of my own way. That was the only way to go deeper.
“A couple of good long par putts on the back-nine were crucial in keeping me going. Finishing with a birdie was great. Golmuri is more scoring because all the par-5s there are reachable. Therefore, players will always look to make a good start there.”
Angad Cheema produced seven birdies and a bogey during his 66 to end the day in joint second place along with Gangjee.
Defending champion Chikkarangappa S (67) was in tied 17th place at seven-under 137.
TATA Steel PGTI Ranking leader Om Prakash Chouhan (68) was placed tied 33rd at four-under 140.
The two Jamshedpur-based professionals Karan Taunk (even-par 144) and Kurush Heerjee (three-over 147) were placed tied 57th and tied 64th respectively.
Round 2 Leaderboard:
130: Gaganjeet Bhullar (64-66)
132: Rahil Gangjee (70-62); Angad Cheema (66-66)
133: N Thangaraja (66-67)
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