Steady Chawrasia jumps to sole lead

11-03-2017
DH

After finishing his opening round on par early in the morning, the defending champion fired a brilliant five-under 67 in the second to take the clubhouse lead, minutes before the play was suspended for the second day straight at the Hero Indian Open.

Another lightning disruption, followed by rain, forced the suspension of play in the afternoon for two hours and 30 minutes. Therefore, only the players who teed off in the first session of play could complete their second round on Friday. Sixty six players will now return on Saturday morning to complete their second rounds while the third round will start a little after noon.

For Chawrasia (72, 67), it turned out to be a long day. He was among the 66 players whose opening round was left unfinished due to the weather delay on Thursday. Chawrasia, who began his day at 4 am for 7 am tee-off, finished his first round with a bogey and six shots behind the leader David Horsey (66, 74), who was also drawn in his group. Horsey, who had a bogey-free first round in the morning, faltered in the second -- carding three birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey.

Chawrasia, on the contrary, came up with a flawless second round. He hit five birdies for a five-under and led Horsey by a stroke after the two finished their second rounds. Italian Matteo Manassero (68) had finished seven holes of the second round and Eddie Pepperell (69) three holes, when bad light suspended the second day’s play, leaving the two tied at third place.

“It’s quite an achievement to play bogey-free here. I’m getting a bit used to the course now,” said Chawrasia, whose all three European Tour wins have come in India.

The greens of the DLF Golf and Country Club continued to be hard and slick, and the undulated course tested the golfers. Chawrasia kept himself in the hunt with a calculated approach of “hitting straight and putting well”. Beginning on the back nine, his putting kept him in good stead. He birdied the 11th before rolling a 50-footer on the 14th. Horsey, who had dropped a shot on the 13th, birdied alongwith Chawrasia on the 15th but dropped a shot on the 18th after finding the hazard and taking a drop.

Horsey’s troubles continued on the front nine. He had bogey and double bogey on fifth and eighth holes, where Chawrasia sunk in longish putts (around 25 feet on fifth, 20 feet on eight) for birdies.

And though the Indian missed a birdie putt on ninth, he had done enough to become the sole leader.

Former champion Jyoti Randhawa (75, 70), was the next best Indian at 145. Among the other Indians who finished their rounds, Chiragh Kumar (75) and Chikkarangappa (76) both with totals of 148.

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