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Defending champion Chikkarangappa rises to top with a 65

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Gurugram, March 17 (IANS) Defending champion Chikkarangappa S. of Bengaluru carded a sublime seven-under-65, the day’s joint best score, to emerge as halfway leader at a total of nine-under-135 at the Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship at the Golden Greens Golf Club here on Wednesday.

Gurugram’s Tapy Ghai (67) and Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta (70) were in joint second place with totals of eight-under-136 at the Rs 30 lakh event.

The cut was declared at one-over-145. Fifty-six professionals made the cut.

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Chikkarangappa (70-65), lying overnight tied 12th and four off the lead, began the day with a flurry of birdies on the first, second and third holes, the latter two being conversions from 12 to 15 feet. Chikka, a winner of 14 titles, recovered well after his bogey on the fourth with two more birdies on the eighth and ninth.

The 27-year-old had an action-packed back-nine. He dropped a double-bogey on the 10th after finding the hazard twice but came roaring back with birdies on the next two holes. Chikka ended the day in style with a birdie-eagle on the 17th and 18th. The 25-feet eagle conversion on the 18th was the fifth long putt of the day that he pulled off.

Chikka said, “I had a terrific start today and was stroking the ball well on the greens. The putts rolled in for me on a consistent basis. I had a disastrous 10th hole but importantly I kept calm and quickly got back into rhythm picking up a couple of strokes over the next two holes.

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“My iron-play was much better today as compared to round one. One hardly finds a flat lie on the fairways at Golden Greens. So in round one I had a tough time dealing with the lie on the fairways which have a lot of slopes. You can’t even see the fairway slopes from the tees here. Today, I figured out a few things about striking the ball from the slopes on the fairways.”

Tapy Ghai (69-67), who was tied eighth and three off the lead after round one, had nine birdies and four bogeys to show in his round of 67 on Wednesday. Ghai, a winner on the PGTI, made a chip-in on the third and landed it close on several occasions to set up his birdies during round two.

The 25-year-old Ghai said, “I was able to bounce back after almost every bogey that I made today. That kept the momentum going for me. I have good memories of Golden Greens having won my last amateur event here in 2017. So I’m quite comfortable with the layout here and therefore confident of playing well.”

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Harendra Gupta (66-70), the round one joint leader, returned a 70 that featured three birdies and a bogey. He made some gains towards the end after making pars on his first 13 holes.

–IANS

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