Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh in five-way tie for second
Noida, February 8, 2017: Kolkata’s Shankar Das, fighting his way back from an injury and poor form, came up with a brilliant four-under-68 in round two of the PGTI Players Championship at Noida Golf Course to power ahead by two strokes. Shankar, the 2014 PGTI Order of Merit champion was sitting pretty at a total of nine-under-135 at the end of round two.
There was a five-way tie for second place at seven-under-137 between Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh, overnight leaders Gaurav Ghei and Shamim Khan of Delhi, Honey Baisoya, another Delhi pro, as well as Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu.
The cut came down at three-over-147. Fifty professionals made the cut.
Shankar Das (67-68), who was overnight tied third, one off the pace in round one, produced a flawless 68 to race ahead on day two. Das made early gains on Wednesday, collecting birdies on the first and third. He narrowly missed a hole-in-one on third where his tee shot lipped out.
The 33-year-old, who won the last of his six titles in late 2015, picked up two more strokes on the back-nine in what turned out to be a round of many near-misses for eagle and birdie.
“I came into this week with the disappointment of not getting to play in the Asian Tour’s Bangladesh event due to some issues with the visa. However, I’ve been able to put that behind me with two solid rounds here in Noida.
“I’ve put in a lot of work on my short-game in the last one month and that’s bearing fruit. But I feel today I was a little unlucky as I missed a hole-in-one by a whisker and also narrowly missed eagles on two other occasions.
“I’ve been striking it well with the 3-wood here and haven’t used the driver much. I’m hungry to win once again and now it’s a question of keeping up the tempo over the next two days,” said a confident Shankar.
Local favourite Gaurav Pratap Singh (67-70), who shared third place with Shankar after round one, moved up one spot courtesy a 70 that featured an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys. Singh came close to making an albatross on the par-5 first hole where he landed his second shot from 250 yards out to within inches of the pin. He picked up an eagle there.
Singh said, “I didn’t play as well as round one but today’s round keeps me in contention. The eagle on the opening hole provided a huge boost and was the highlight of my round. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself at this stage and just want to set a target for each round.”
Honey Baisoya (70-67) delivered the joint best score of the day, a five-under-67, to move into tied second. Baisoya, a two-time winner last year, had an early bogey on the 12th but fought back with six birdies thereafter that included three curling putts from 20 to 30 feet.
Baisoya said, “After the two wins in November 2016, I felt I lost my rhythm in last season’s penultimate event. I wasn’t planning my rounds well and made some wrong decisions on the course. But today’s round seems to have helped me regain my touch.
“I converted some tough putts out there and struck a good balance between caution and aggression. My first round was equally good but a double-bogey had spoilt it for me.
“It’s imperative to hit the centre of the fairway here as that sets up a lot of birdies even if you’re not at your best with the putter.”
Overnight leaders Gaurav Ghei (66-71) and Shamim Khan (66-71) slipped to tied second after posting scores of 71 in round two.
Ghei was two-over through the front-nine but a near-perfect tee shot on the 10th helped him settle down and he went on to add three birdies from there on.
Shamim, on the other hand, was four-under through the front-nine but a double-bogey and two bogeys on the back-nine meant he closed the day with a modest 71.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (68-69) shot a second round of 69 to end the day as the fifth player in joint second.
Patna’s Aman Raj and Panchkula’s Angad Cheema were in tied seventh place at four-under-140.
Among the rookies, Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa (71-74) made the cut. Viraj, playing his first event as a professional, totaled one-over-145 at the halfway stage to be tied 21st.