The Hindu (Mumbai)

Ahlawat stays in the hunt; Nakajima opens twoshot lead

- Rakesh Rao

Veer Ahlawat, one of the longest hitters on the domestic tour and often leads the ‘eaglecount’ for the season, moved within five strokes of leader on the second day of the $2.25 million Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club here.

The day produced a course record of 10under 62 from Norway’s Espen Kofstad — after a highly forgettabl­e 81 on the first day — that erased the previous best of 64 by Shubhankar Sharma in 2018 edition of this premier event and by Arjun Puri in the Kapil DevGrand Thornton Invitation­al in 2022.

When play was suspended due to lightning, 46 golfers – including Shubhankar and Anirban Lahiri – were on course. The incomplete second round also meant that the projected ‘cut’ at 144 could not be applied.

Extends stay

For the record, Japanese Keita Nakajima extended his stay at the top following a successive sevenunder 65 for a tworound tally of 130.

He led Frenchman Romain Langasque by two shots and moved three strokes ahead of fellow overnight leader, Italian Matteo Manassero.

Ahlawat started from the 10th hole and found

up with a 66.

Ahlawat improve his card from a firstday 69 to come pars on the first seven holes. This was followed by three successive birdies before he erred in judgement and dropped a shot on the second hole of the course.

He responded with an ‘eagle’ on the fourth after his superb approach shot left him 10 feet from the pin. He collected two more birdies to improve his card from a firstday 69 to come up with a 66.

Nakajima’s measured putting earned him five birdies inarow on the front nine and placed him way ahead of the pack at 12. He added backtoback birdies after taking the turn to move to 14 with seven holes to play. After two pars, the Japanese encountere­d an unforeseen trouble with his putting as he bogeyed thrice in succession to slip to 11 with two holes to go.

Again, on the testing 17th, Nakajima produced a stunning drive, a wellcalcul­ated shot from the fairway and birdied to get back the confidence. But his best came on the final hole. On the par5, Nakajima reached the green on two and drained an ‘eagleputt’ from about 20 feet to finish at 14.

Leading scores: 130: Keita Nakajima (Jpn) (65, 65);

Romain Langasque (Fra) (66, 66); Matteo Manassero (Ita) (65,

Veer Ahlawat (69, 66); Joel Girrbach (Swi) (67, 70); Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) (67, 70) and Jeff Winther (Den) (69, 68).

Other Indians (with sub-par scores after completing their rounds): 138: Karandeep Kochhar (68, 70); Manu Gandas (73, 65); Gaganjeet Bhullar (70, 69); Rashid Khan (71, 69); Jairaj Singh Sandhu (72, 70).


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