17 March 2021: On his day S Chikkarangappa can tower over the field, playing with great imagination. It was one of those days today when the golfer from Bengaluru shot an imposing 65 to take charge of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Delhi-NCR Open Golf Championship. Tapy Ghai refused to be swept away, producing a 67 to inch within a stroke of the leader. Overnight leaders Ajeetesh Sandhu and Harendra Gupta stayed rooted at six-under through the second round, before the latter found late birdies to join Ghai on 8-under. Honey Baisoya slipped to T12 after gliding away from a share of the lead on a 74.
Udayan Mane worked his way up the order, moving into T4 with Sandhu, Aman Raj, Gaurav Pratap Singh and Khalin Joshi. Mane shot 67 on Wednesday, while Aman Raj produced a 66. Khalin matched the effort of Chikkarangappa, making 65 to reach 6-under. Gaurav was the last to work his way into this group with a 68.
Sanjeev Kumar, Kartik Sharma, Manav Jani are in T9. They are all at 5-under through 36 holes.
At 4-under Karandeep Kochhar is keeping company with Gulfam Pappan, Arjun Sharma, Baisoya and Hemendra Choudhary. Rashid Khan slipped to T17 after knocking in three birdies and five bogeys in his 74.
Chikkarangappa opened the day with three straight birdies and capped it with a birdie-eagle finish to snatch the lead. He was four-under on his way out, before stumbling at the tenth. A poor tee shot found the left rough, forcing Chikka to chip out in an effort to return to the fairway. Unfortunately he overcooked his chip all the way to the right rough and lost another stroke returning the ball into play. But he made amends immediately, gaining strokes on the next two holes to erase the damage. After four straight pars, Chikka made his eighth birdie of the round at the 17th hole.
On the 18th hole, Chikka had about 215 yards to the flag after a solid tee shot put him in a comfortable position. He sailed his six-iron to about 25 feet and knocked it in for a thumping finish to the round.
“The greens are bumpy as the course works its way back into the summer,” said Chikka. “It is going to be important to stay clean off the tees and play some solid golf with the irons in order to have the cushion for a couple of putts on these greens.”
Ghai and Gupta shot 67 and 70 respectively, to sit just one behind the leader. Ghai had nine birdies on his card while Gupta made fourteen pars and three birdies for his second round.
“I was able to bounce back after almost every bogey that I made today. That kept the momentum going for me. I have good memories of Golden Greens having won my last amateur event here in 2017. So I’m quite comfortable with the layout here and therefore confident of playing well.”
Mohammed Azhar may have missed the cut, but he had the consolation of a hole in one at the eighth hole during his second round 73.