Kolkata, December 23, 2016: Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan’s Rolex Ranking title hopes were raised when he returned a scorching eight-under-64 at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship 2016 on Friday. He thus stormed into the joint second round lead along with Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (R
Delhi lad Rashid and Pariya, who shot a four-under-68, opened up a four-shot lead at the top with their total scores reading 10-under-134.
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh sank the second hole-in-one of the tournament during his second round of 70. Ranjit shared third place along with local favourite SSP Chawrasia (68), Rolex Ranking leader Shubhankar Sharma (68) of Panchkula and Noida’s Amardip Sinh Malik (70) at six-under-138.
Rashid Khan (70-64), tied seventh and four off the lead after round one, found his way to the top of the pack with an error-free 64 that featured an eagle and six birdies. Rashid, who is currently fourth in the Rolex Ranking, has now received a shot in the arm for his aspiration to be the PGTI No. 1.
Khan made early inroads on Friday, sinking an eagle and two birdies on the first five holes. He drained a 20-feet eagle putt on the par-5 fourth.
Rashid, a double winner on the PGTI this year, carried on the good work on the back-nine by adding four more birdies to his card. He landed it within a foot on the 12th, sank a 35-footer on the next and also capitalized with a birdie on the second par-5, the 15th.
Rashid, who ended up one short of his 2014 course record of 63, said, “I was quite confident coming into this event as I had a runner-up finish last week in Jamshedpur. This round is a good boost for my Order of Merit chances.
“I had a really good start today, unlike round one, and that made a huge difference. Importantly, I capitalized on both the par-5s on this course by making an eagle on one and birdie on the other. I’m quite at home at this course as I hold the joint course record here. So that will definitely be at the back of my mind in the next two rounds.
“This season I’ve struggled with some injuries thereby playing fewer events on the both the Asian Tour and the PGTI. But I feel the game is getting better each week. It’ll be fun playing alongside Pariya tomorrow as both of us have played together many times on the Asian Tour before.”
Round one leader Pariya Junhasavasdikul (66-68) shared the second round lead with Rashid after a clinical 68 that included five birdies and a bogey. Pariya was one-under through the front-nine and then made a move on the back-nine with three long birdie conversions. His 25-footer for birdie on the last hole helped him end the day in the joint lead along with Rashid.
Pariya, said, “I’m hanging in there. I had a better back-nine thanks to some long putts. I’m a little disappointed to have missed out on a birdie on the second par-5, the 15th. I’ve not been able to make both the par-5s count on both days. That is one area I’ll look to improve upon.
“As I said yesterday, Rashid will be one of the top contenders this week. He is very good around the greens and can create a lot of shots.”
Kolkata’s SSP Chawrasia, winner of the inaugural edition of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship in 2012, moved up from tied seventh to tied third after a 68 on day two.
Ranjit Singh aced the second during his round of 70. He thus hung on to his tied third position.
Rolex Ranking leader Shubhankar Sharma and Amardip Sinh Malik, who had a hole-in-one on day one, joined Chawrasia and Ranjit in tied third at six-under-138.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (69), Jyoti Randhawa (69), Khalin Joshi (72) and Sanjeev Kumar (69) occupied joint seventh place at five-under-139
Jeev Milkha Singh slipped from overnight tied fifth to the 11th spot after a sedate 71 on Friday. His total stood at four-under-140.
Shiv Kapur (70) was a further shot back in tied 12th.
The Kolkata duo of Rahil Gangjee (71) and Arjun Atwal (73) were placed tied 22nd at even-par-144 and tied 31st at two-over-146 respectively.Published 24 Dec 2016, 12:15 IST