NEW DELHI, SEPT 2
With new contenders jostling for space, a four-way tie for the lead presented itself after the second round of the LG Northern India Amateur Championship being played at the Delhi Golf Club. Rashid Khan and Ankur Chadha shot the best rounds of the day, 68 each, to join Rahul Bajaj and overnight leader Abhishek Jha on top with a tournament total of two-under 142.
Bajaj improved on his first round showing by two shots while Jha, who looked set to extend his lead, faltered towards the end with bogeys on the 16th and 17th, making for an exciting leaderboard heading into the final two rounds.
The cut fell at 15-over par and the casualties included Vikram Rana and Aditya Bhandarkar among others.
One week shy of turning 15, Ankur Chadha, a Category B player on the junior circuit, marched to the top in only his first tournament on the amateur tour. “It does feel quite good and I think I can keep up this pace,” said Ankur. Going through his round, he said, “I had a 40-foot putt on the fifth, and the other highlight of my round was a birdie on the ninth where I stuck my 4-iron ten feet from the pin.” The 15-year-old has represented India four times this year, and won the last junior tour tournament played at DGC, prevailing over the likes of Ashbeer Saini and Chikkarangappa.
Putting aside his putting woes from the first round, Rashid presented a strong case for the defence of his title. Starting from the 10th, the 18-year-old got off to a steady start, making a couple of important par saves before his first birdie came on the 15th hole. The testing 16th was the only hole on the course where he dropped a shot before bouncing right back with two more birdies. A long par putt which found the cup on the fourth brought back the momentum and he finished the remaining holes in clinical fashion, finding the greens and converting the chances that were presented in front of him.
Speaking after the round, he said, “Before I started my round, my friends in the club told me that I had let them down and I had to bounce back with a round of four-under. Funnily, I managed that, although, if I was a little more careful, I could definitely have added a few more birdies.” Emphasising on the strength of his game today, he said, “I was hitting all my approach shots really well and that put me at ease.”
Joint leader after the first round, SK Lakra, struggled to continue his run and fell back with a round of seven-over 79.
Leaderboard: 142: Rashid Khan (74,68), Ankur Chadha (74,68), 142: Rahul Bajaj (72,70), 142: Abhishek Jha (70,72), 146: Moin Malik (75,71), 147: Abhinav Lohan (74,73), 149: S K Lakra (70,79), 150: Jasjeet Singh (78,72), 151: Ashbeer Saini (76,75), 151: Wasim Kkhan (76,75), 152: Kanishik Madan (72,80), 152: Honey Baisoya (75,77), 152: Imamul Haque (75,77), 152: Varoon Parmar (75,77), 152: Akshay Sharma (75,77).