M Dharma takes charge at the halfway stage of Jaipur Open

M Dharma gained a three-stroke advantage over Veer Ahlawat (63) and Khalin Joshi (66) with a second straight 62 at the Rambagh Golf Club

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M Dharma - RGC - PGTI

13 October 2021: Bengaluru’s M Dharma dominated round two with a second straight eight-under 62, the day’s best score, to open up a three-shot lead at 16-under 124 at the Rs. 40 lakh Jaipur Open 2021 Presented by Rajasthan Tourism being played at the par-70 Rambagh Golf Club (RGC).

The 35-year-old Dharma (62-62), who was tied second and one off the lead after round one, is now well-placed to improve upon his two third place finishes in the previous two editions of the Jaipur Open. The two-time winner on the PGTI, currently placed 18th in the PGTI Order of Merit, sank an eagle and seven birdies at the cost of a solitary bogey on Wednesday.

Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat (64-63) had an astonishing run of six successive birdies on the back-nine during his second round of 63. He moved up four spots to tied second at 13-under 127.

Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi (61-66), the round one leader, slipped to tied second along with Ahlawat after a second round of 66 that featured an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys.

The cut fell at three-under 137. Fifty professionals made the cut for the money rounds.

M Dharma had one of his best days with the putter in recent times. He sank birdies from a range of 10 to 15 feet on the first, third, fourth and sixth. Dharma then missed an eagle by the narrowest of margins as his approach shot from 100 yards out stopped inches from the flag. He tapped-in for birdie there. His only bogey of the day came on the second hole.

On the back-nine, Dharma made further gains with a 20-feet birdie and a 25-feet eagle conversion on the 10th and 18th respectively. He also picked up a birdie on the 13th.

Dharma said, “Earlier in the season I was struggling with my putting but now my putting is much improved and that has resulted in my good scores. I had an exceptional day considering I didn’t pick up strokes on three out of the four par-5s. It was good to end the day with an eagle as it was a huge confidence-booster for me.

“I’ve been close to winning at the last two editions of the Jaipur Open, so I would love to go one better this time around. I didn’t play well earlier this year but my game has been sharp since the resumption of the season in September. My two recent top-10 finishes helped me regain my self-belief.”

Veer Ahlawat had a dream run of six straight birdies from the 13th to the 18th. He then had a relatively quieter front-nine, adding just one more birdie on his closing ninth hole.

Khalin Joshi was three-under over the first 10 holes but then had an up and down last eight holes collecting an eagle and a birdie in exchange for two bogeys.

Last week’s winner Viraj Madappa (64) of Kolkata and Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta (65) were in tied fourth place at 12-under 128.

PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar (64) of Chandigarh was in sixth at 11-under 129.

Olympian Udayan Mane (65) was tied eighth at nine-under 131.

Jaipur’s Hemendra Choudhary (66-70), playing at his home course, was placed tied 32nd at four-under 136. Choudhary was the only Jaipur-based player to make the cut.