Indian pro golfers Anirban Lahiri and S Chikkarangappa were among the top five who shared the lead at the USD 1.1 million at Venetian Macao Open, where European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke missed the cut and English golfer Ian Poulter scored a two-over-par 73 on Friday.
Lahiri, the reigning number one in Asia playing for his eighth Asian tour win fired a 68 to join countryman Seenappa Chikkarangappa (65), Zimbabwean Scott Vincent (64), Australian Kalem Richardson (67) and Thai Sutijet Kooratanapisan (66) on eight-under 134 for the top 5 positions in the tournament.
It was a good day for the Indian golfers here at Macau with Rahil Gangjee (69), Chiragh Kumar (70) and Shankar Das (67), being tied-11th at five-under 137. Rashid Khan (69) was Tied-19th, while Jyoti Randhawa (71) and Khalin Joshi (70) were tied-31st.Indian origin Swedish golfer Daniel Chopra (67) was tied 51-st along with Arjun Atwal (71). SSP Chawrasia (70) and Gaganjeet Bhullar (69) also managed to make the cut at one-over 143.
The 29-year-old Indian was quoted by the PTI as saying, “Obviously not the start I was looking for (with the triple bogey) but I was confident if I could claw myself back, I could put a score together. (at the) end of the day, I’m still a bit disappointed I didn’t birdie one of the last three holes. However, I’m happy to keep myself in it.”
Chikkarangappa who has already registered two top-10s, credited his putting for his brilliant run, eagling the last hole from eight feet. Chikka who was in splendid form shot a six-under 65, which included four birdies on the front nine, a bogey on the par-5 12th and another birdie on the 16th.“The key was putting although I did hit some good wedge shots in,” said the 23-year-old.
Joint overnight leader Ian Poulter, returning to the circuit following a four-and-a-half month layoff due to an arthritic right foot, shot a poor 73 and slipped down to finish on 137. Title holder Scott Hend fired a 67 to lie a further stroke back. Branden Grace of South Africa, ranked 14 in the world, was on 140 after carding a 71 while Northern Irishman Clarke failed to qualify for the weekend following a 73.