Kunal Bhasin shines with a 66, in five-way lead with Mukesh Kumar, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Himmat Singh Rai & Khalin Joshi
Rookie Viraj Madappa fires day’s best 64
Hyderabad, February 17, 2017: Round two of the Golconda Masters 2017 witnessed a leaderboard logjam as five players shared the lead at seven-under-135. Australia’s Kunal Bhasin produced a masterclass five-under-66 to be the joint leader along with Mukesh Kumar (67) of Mhow, Chandigarh’s Abhijit Singh Chadha (67), Delhi’s Himmat Singh Rai (68) and Bengalurean Khalin Joshi (70).
Reigning champion Ajeetesh Sandhu (67) was bunched together in tied sixth at five-under-137 along with Samarth Dwivedi (68), Angad Cheema (71), round one leader Sameer M Shaikh (74), Digvijay Singh (67), M Dharma (69) and Sri Lankan Anura Rohana (67).
Kolkata-based 19-year-old rookie Viraj Madappa also made an impact at the Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC) on Friday after he returned the day’s best score of seven-under-64.
The cut was declared at two-over-144. Fifty professionals made it to the money rounds.
Kunal Bhasin (69-66), a three-time winner on the PGTI, zoomed up from his overnight tied 13th courtesy a brilliant 67 that was punctuated by six birdies and a lone bogey. Kunal earned a birdie for almost driving the green on the 15th and also chipped-in for birdie on the fourth.
The 37-year-old Mumbai resident Bhasin said, “I hadn’t played from the start of the season till August last year as I had taken a break from the game for training on and off the course. When I came back in September I suffered a back injury. So that put paid to my hopes last season.
“But I feel my game and fitness are back on track now. I’ve worked on my mind and sharpened my mental aspect since the end of last year.
“I only had a bad stretch on the fourth, fifth and sixth in round one. I’m now nine-under over the last 30 holes with just one bogey since the sixth hole yesterday. It’s set me up well for the last two days.”
Mukesh Kumar (68-67) and Abhijit Singh Chadha (68-67) moved into the joint lead from overnight tied seventh having carded scores of 67. Chadha tapped-in for an eagle on the 10th on Friday.
Himmat Singh Rai (67-68) birdied all five par-3 holes and the 15th at the cost of a bogey and a double-bogey to gain three places from his overnight tied fourth.
Khalin Joshi (65-70), who was overnight second, also moved into the joint lead after a steady 70.
Haider Hussain (74-72), the lone professional from Hyderabad, missed the cut as he totaled four-over-146 to be tied 60th.
All six Hyderabad-based amateurs missed the cut. Rahul Ajay was the best performing amateur at eight-over-150. He was placed tied 79th.
Viraj Madappa’s smooth transition to the pro ranks
Teenaged rookie Viraj Madappa seems to have made a smooth transition from the amateur to the professional circuit. Madappa, India’s top amateur in 2015, had posted a creditable tied 31st finish in his debut event as a professional last week in Noida.
The six foot two inch tall golfer from Kolkata’s Tollygunge Club, who had six wins against his name on the amateur circuit, once again impressed in round two of the Golconda Masters as he shot the day’s best score of seven-under-64 to lie tied 13th at four-under-138 at the halfway stage.
It was a strong comeback for Viraj who began the week with a three-over-74 that had placed him tied 67th after round one. His error-free second round was highlighted by a magnificent tee shot on the 11th that set up a four feet birdie putt and a 25-feet birdie conversion on the fifth.
Viraj said, “I was more focused today compared to round one. I hit it long so that plays to my advantage here at the HGC which happens to be one of my favourite courses. I hit it close today, landing it within four feet on at least three occasions, to set up birdies. My short-game was also sharp.
“Last week when I made my debut as a professional, I was just getting comfortable with the new surroundings. It was different seeing a lot of new people around and playing alongside the likes of Gaurav Ghei and Himmat Singh Rai in my first event. These are people I have looked up to.
“I feel I’m more settled this week. Speaking to Shubhankar Sharma, whom I’ve known since my junior days, also helped me settle down.
“This year will be a learning curve as I have to see how the results work out for me after all the work I’ve put in. I feel I have the advantage of knowing most of the courses where the PGTI events are held.
“I also think that my temperament will be my strength. I wasn’t very calm on the course when I started playing golf but gradually I’ve learnt not to show my emotions during competition,” added Madappa, who admires golfers such as Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and Anirban Lahiri.