Adri Arnaus leads Canary Islands Championship, Ajeetesh Sandhu shoots a sparkling 65

A spotless 65 helped Ajeetesh Sandhu secure his weekend in the Canary Islands Championship. Adri Arnaus shot a second straight 64 to gain the lead

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Ajeetesh Sandhu - Getty Images

08 May 2021: Adri Arnaus continued his brilliant run of scoring at Golf Costa Adeje with a second consecutive 64 to take the halfway lead at the 2021 Canary Islands Championship. Gaganjeet Bhullar, SSP Chawrasia, Ajeetesh Sandhu and Shubhankar Sharma reached the weekend safely, while Shiv Kapur missed the cut.

Sandhu played particularly well for a brilliant 65, moving to T46 with Bhullar and Chawrasia. Sandhu began the day with four straight birdies and never looked back. He returned a clean sheet for an impressive six-under round that helped him work his way up from an opening 71.

Bhullar made five straight birdies from the eleventh hole for a brilliant start to his round. In all he made seven birdies but also conceded three bogeys to settle for a 67. Chawrasia repeated a 68 to stay in the company of his two compatriots.

An even 71 was enough for Shubhankar to make the weekend on the number, but the same score left Shiv Kapur two below the red line, as he was starting off a 69 in the opening round.

Adri Arnaus - Getty Images
Adri Arnaus of Spain reacts on the 18th green during Day Two of the Canary Islands Championship at Golf Costa Adeje (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Arnaus went 66-66 over the weekend at last week’s Tenerife Open on the same layout and had spoken of how comfortable he felt on the largest of the Canary Islands.

He certainly looked very much at home in round two this week, birdieing six of his last seven holes to move to 14 under and lead the way from South Africa’s Garrick Higgo, who lifted the trophy on neighbouring Gran Canaria a fortnight ago.

Scottish trio Calum Hill, Richie Ramsay and Connor Syme were then at 12 under alongside Italian Francesco Laporta.

Arnaus had three runner up finishes in his maiden European Tour season in 2019 – including one in Spain at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters hosted by the Sergio Garcia Foundation – while he also had a top five at the Mutuactivos Open de España.

A top ten last week represented his best finish so far on the 2021 Race to Dubai and Arnaus is once again flying on home soil as he looks for a first European Tour victory.

“I’ve been playing pretty smart,” he said.. “After six days of playing this golf course, you know which spots are better than others. Even though I played really solid, when you don’t have it all you just have to be smart and place it in the right spots, give yourself some chances. That’s what we did today.

“Became a bit cold in the middle of the round but stayed patient and these last few holes paid off. Happy to make some birdies coming in.”

A Spanish success would be particularly poignant this week as May 7 marked the ten year anniversary of the death of the great Seve Ballesteros, and his portrait was stood on the first tee on Friday.

“I think I can speak for most of the Spanish players, we have all become dreamers trying to follow what Seve did,” added Arnaus. “Whenever we were young, playing around the chipping area trying to become the magician that he was.

“I have to say that it’s pretty special that the European Tour put that board behind the first tee because it reminds us of what he meant to our sport and to all the Spaniards. He was the icon for us.”

Arnaus was unspectacular on the front nine, birdieing the par five third and hitting a smart approach into the next before he dropped a shot on the sixth to turn in 34.

But a ten footer on the 12th ignited his round and he took advantage of the par five next, put a tee shot to six feet on the 14th and left himself a tap-in on the 15th.

Another ten footer on the 17th had him in the lead but he was soon joined by Higgo in the group in front.

Birdies on the first and fourth saw the 21-year-old turn in 33 and he holed from 30 feet on the tenth before making the most of the 13th and leaving himself a tap-in on the 15th.

An approach to 12 feet on the 17th edged him closer and he got nice roll off the fringe at the last to leave himself 15 feet for eagle and a share of the lead after a 63.

“It’s the first time I’ve hit the 18th fairway and I’ve played this course about ten times now, so that was nice,” he said. “The approach was just as good, putt was good. It broke a lot; I feel like these greens are breaking more and more as they are getting faster. It was nice to roll it in.”

Arnaus then hit a poor tee shot on the last but recovered brilliantly and a two putt birdie on the last edged him back ahead.

Hill got off to a stunning start as his first shot of the day left him seven feet for birdie at the tenth and he followed that with gains on the 11th and 13th and another wonderful tee shot at the 14th.

He made it four out of five on the par fives on the third and another tee shot to inside 15 feet on the fifth made it three birdies on par threes before he dropped his only shot of the day on the difficult eighth for a 65.

Countryman Ramsay also started on the tenth and birdied the three par fives on the back nine, adding another gain with a tee shot to two feet on the 14th.

He started the front nine with five pars but an approach to 12 feet on the sixth and tee shot to eight feet on the seventh helped him stay bogey free as he too made it two consecutive rounds of 65.

Laporta entered the day with a one shot lead but was among the later starters in the morning and when he bogeyed the tenth and 14th, he was a long way back.

But a lengthy putt on the 16th kickstarted his round and he made the most of the first and third before holing from inside ten feet on the fifth and sixth in a 68.

Syme was another player to make a fast start as he birdied the first, put his tee shot to nine feet on the second and then eagled the third with a monster putt from the fringe.

He broke a run of seven pars with a birdie on the 11th and hit a nice approach into the 15th before giving the shot straight back on the next. The best was yet to come, however, as he holed a lengthy chip on the last for a second eagle of the day and a round of 64.

Last week’s winner Dean Burmester and Andrew Johnston carded a pair of 63s to sit at 11 under alongside Aaron Cockerill and Richard Mansell, a shot clear of Oliver Fisher, Niall Kearney and Robin Sciot-Siegrist.

Masahiro Kawamura made the 17th hole-in-one of the season and 13th in the last eight consecutive events when he holed an eight iron from 158 yards on the seventh.

 

European Tour Report