Chadha draws on winning memories to push leader Hie
Mewat (Haryana): For Abhijit Chadha, the Classic course is a comfort zone. Having won here three times in different stages as a junior, amateur and pro, there is something on the greens that appeals to his heart and game. Positive memories and familiarity make this a favourite stop and after the second round of the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship, the taste of ‘home’ was sweeter than ever. Starting on the tenth tee, the brown-eyed, bearded 28-year-old had a solo celebration on the back before firing six birdies on the front for a 7-under 65 that took him to 11-under, just a stroke behind leader Rory Hie.
It was nothing less than he expected. “I’ve worked hard for this so I know I deserve it,” the lean-andtrim Chandigarh golfer said, after walking into the shade having had a sweaty outing in very humid conditions. “I know I am better than this so a breakthrough will eventually come.”
Sometimes there is mutual respect, and the course provided him that lucky break on the 18th before he made the turn. His wayward drive ricocheted off a tree onto the fairway, and a birdie boost set up his binge on the return journey.
Things were not so rosy last year when he had tweaked with his swing. “It has taken me a year and a half to adjust to it, really everything changes.” In 2018, he did something he hadn’t experienced for five years – missed the cut in a PGTI event.
He made it through Asian Tour Qualifying but was waylaid by a shoulder injury in January that kept him out of the game for two months till the Indian Open in March. Happy that the Jack Nicklaus signature course is hosting an Asian Tour event again, he said, “In pressure situations, you need to feel comfortable and the course provides me that. I feel like I’m on auto pilot.”
While he is intent on making most of any opportunities on ‘moving day’, one thing he surely won’t be missing in the evening is the Manchester United vs Leicester City match. The Red Devils fan would like to play Fantasy Manager in January and buy a few players but he is afraid Man City would run away with the Premiership anyway. Running away with this trophy is on his mind. “For the next two rounds, I want to go as low as possible and I feel confident on these greens.”
Looking over his shoulders, he will see his 2010 Asian Games silver-winning teammate Rashid Khan and talented Aman Raj just a stroke behind.
Rashid’s bogey-free card was dotted with six birdies, three of which came out of the rough. There was a bit of a lull on the back nine but he walked off the 18th gaining a shot and setting himself up for more Tour glory.
Patna’s Aman, who swung his first club when he was three, will be hoping for a first. Although a bogeyend to his round of 67 left him disappointed, he took it in his stride. “This is golf, you have to take it and move forward.” A top-5 finish in the Panasonic Open last year will serve as a reminder of his capabilities, and some kind words from Jeev Milkha Singh will provide the confidence. Indonesia’s Rory, meanwhile, reunited with the caddy who guided him at the 2009 SAIL Open here. There was a surprise in store in the late afternoon when he retained the lead with two closing birdies on the 8th and 9th.
The other Indians
Aadil Bedi was tied-6th; Chikkarangappa, Ankur Chadha and Abhinav Lohan were placed tied 11th on 7-under; Khalin Joshi was tied 24th at five-under, Viraj Madappa tied 35th at four-under and Jyoti Randhawa tied 63rd at one-under. The cut was declared at one-under-143. 37 Indians made the cut. Ajeetesh Sandhu (70, 74) missed the cut.
132 - Rory Hie (INA) 64-68; 133 - Abhijit Chadha (IND) 68-65; 134 - Aman Raj (IND) 67-67, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 69-65, Rashid Khan (IND) 68-66; 135 - Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 66-69, Nicholas Latimer (USA) 7164, Byungjun Kim (KOR) 69-66, Aadil Bedi (IND) 67-68. (Cut: One-under)