New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello returned with a three-under-par 69 to take the clubhouse lead with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and India’s Shiv Kapur trailing closely by one at the Avantha Masters golf Friday.
Jeev Milkha Singh was also at seven-under, one behind the leader, but he still had seven holes to play in second round, which he will complete Saturday morning.
The Spaniard dropped two shots in his closing three holes but still managed to retain his slender advantage with a two-day total of eight-under-par 136 at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
Kiradech and Kapur together with England’s Robert Coles and Denmark’s Mark F Haastrup are bunched in equal second on matching 137s at the €1.8 million showpiece which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
Jeev and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, the top-2 career money earners on Asian Tour, were also at seven-under, but both had played only 11 holes each when play had to be halted due to darkness. A total of 64 players will resume their second round at 7.15am local time on Saturday morning.
The 12-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih took a share of eighth place after signing for a 138 total.
Starting at the back-stretch of the course, Spaniard Cabrera-Bello birdied his opening hole before draining a 30-feet putt for another birdie on the following par-three 11th. He continued to birdie the 15th, 16th and sixth holes before committing bogeys on holes seven and nine.
“Eight under after two rounds and leading in the clubhouse so I’ve to be happy,” said Cabrera-Bello who has won once on the European Tour.
“I’m playing well but this is a very weird sport and you have to try to focus day-by-day and shot-by-shot and if I’m in with a chance on Sunday I’ll try to take it,” added the Spaniard.
Kapur who started his round tied for 44th made one of the biggest moves of the day and quickly credited his coach for turning his game around.
“The 30-minute break between the finish of the first round and the start of the second round did a world of good. I spend some time with my coach (Jamie Gough) and we found something that helped me through the second round,” said Kapur who had a flawless round that was highlighted by seven birdies.
Kapur’s lone Asian Tour win came in 2005 but his wait for his second victory would not be too long if he continues to place his trust in his coach.
It was a fairly good day for the Indian contingent. Even as Shiv Kapur and Jeev placed themselves pretty close to the top, some others sparkled, too.
SSP Chowrasia, the first Indian winner of a European Tour event at home back in 2008 Indian Masters, played steadily for three-under 69 in the second round after a first round 70. He played a total of 30 holes on a long and tiring day. “It is only beginning to hit me now,” said Chowrasia after the round. “I will hit a few balls and get back to the Hotel quickly.”
Sujjan Singh, who came through the Q-School to make the Asian Tour this year, was at five-under through eight holes. He shot a 69 on first day and was two-under for eight holes on Friday.
“I am playing well and I just want to keep the momentum going,” said Sujjan, whose only mistake has been a double bogey on the par-4 fifth hole in first round.
Rashid Khan, who with Jeev was the best Indian in the first round with a 68, was one-over through 16 holes. He was going fine at one-under for the second day, when he was hit by two bogeys on 13th and 15th. He was now three-under.
Gaganjeet Bhullar who had a 74 in first round fought back with a 69 on second to come to one-under and should make the weekend rounds with the cut likely at even par.