Golf: Sanjay Kumar grabs halfway lead

Kolkata, Dec 27 : Lucknow's Sanjay Kumar carded a solid four-under-68 to grab the halfway lead at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship, the PGTI's year-ending event, being played at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) here on Friday.

Sanjay's total reads eight-under-136 after round two.

Bangalore's Anirban Lahiri returned a one-under-71 to be one shot off the lead in second place.

Sanjay Kumar (68-68) fired a second successive 68 to rise from overnight tied third to first position.

Sanjay's 15-feet birdie putt on the first hole laid the platform for him on day two. The 42-year-old, a winner of six professional titles, consolidated thereafter with birdies on the fifth and 12th, sinking putts from eight to 12 feet.

His only bogey came on the 13th where he missed a chip-putt.

The seasoned Sanjay, who turned professional back in 1987, more than made up for his lapse on the 13th with birdie putts from a range of six to eight feet on the 15th and 17th.

"I hit it better today as compared to round one. I also landed it close on several occasions. The birdie on the opening hole got me in rhythm. I capitalized on the good start from there on. Importantly, I just dropped one bogey today. I'm not looking at a number for round three but will look to hit maximum fairways. The fairways are narrow here, so once you find the fairway, hitting the green in regulation becomes easier," said Sanjay, currently placed 23rd on the Rolex Rankings.

He said, "I've not had the greatest of seasons but still managed three top-10 finishes on the PGTI this year. The win on the PGTI Feeder Tour at my home course in Lucknow this October lifted my confidence. I've been playing better since then. My wife and two sons are here this week and my elder son is following me on the course. I feel that is an added incentive for me to perform well this week."

Anirban Lahiri's (66-71) total moved to seven-under-137 after he followed up his first round of 66 with a modest 71 on Friday. Lahiri made a confident start with a 15-feet birdie conversion on the second and another birdie on the fourth to maintain his overnight lead.

However, he fell back and conceded the lead to Sanjay Kumar after hitting a rough patch from the 11th to the 13th.

A poor second shot meant his ball landed on the cart-path on the 11th. Anirban missed the green from there and thus made a double-bogey.

The three-time winner on the Asian Tour dropped another stroke on the 13th as a result of a poor bunker shot. Lahiri, finally recovered some ground as he sank 10-footers for birdies on the 14th and 16th.

Lahiri, yet to win a title at RCGC, said, "I played some solid golf. However, the double-bogey on the 11th broke my rhythm. It was a decent round barring one bad hole. I'd still say I did not make my share of putts today."

Kolkata's Rahil Gangjee kept local hopes alive as he shot a 68 to end round two in tied third at six-under-138. Gangjee's second round was punctuated by five birdies and a bogey and included two birdie putts from 20 to 25 feet.

Abhinav Lohan of Faridabad joined Rahil in tied third after signing a card of 70 that featured four birdies and two bogeys.

Jyoti Randhawa and Noida's Gaurav Pratap Singh are a further shot back in tied fifth place. Randhawa posted an even-par-72 to drop from overnight second place.

Rolex Rankings leader Rashid Khan is in tied 10th place at three-under-141 while Gaganjeet Bhullar lies tied 15th at two-under-142.

Delhi's Kapil Kumar shot a 67 to record the best score of the day. He is currently placed tied 15th.

Defending champion SSP Chowrasia fired a 70 in round two to be placed tied 33rd at one-over-145.

--IBNS (Posted on 27-12-2013)

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