March 22, 2017: The seasoned Mukesh Kumar grabbed the halfway lead at the Kolkata Classic 2017 courtesy his second round of four-under-68. The man from Mhow was ahead by one at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) as his total read seven-under-137.
Delhi’s Shamim Khan also fired a second round score of 68 to occupy second place at six-under-138. His was the only bogey-free round of the day.
Pre-tournament favourite SSP Chawrasia of Kolkata brought in a card of 70 to end the day in tied fourth at three-under-141.
The cut fell at five-over-149. Fifty-four professionals made the cut.
Mukesh Kumar (69-68) moved up two spots from overnight tied third to first as a result of his determined second round effort which saw him fire five birdies at the expense of just one bogey.
The 51-year-old Mukesh, the winner of a record 18 titles on the PGTI who finally registered his first international win last year in Delhi, began his ascent to the top with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the fourth on Wednesday.
Mukesh’s birdie on the eighth was negated by a bogey on the 10th but the oldest winner on the Asian Tour came roaring back with a trail of birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th. He was in troubled waters on the 15th and 16th but made excellent recoveries to extract birdies on both holes.
Mukesh said, “I have two victories at the RCGC, but it’s been a while since I last won here, definitely over a decade. So I’m eager to perform well this time. I was quite pleased with the way I recovered on a couple of holes today. I was in the bunker on the 15th and in the rough on the 16th, but managed birdies on both occasions.
“I’m well placed to consolidate from here on but the experienced Shamim, Chikka and Chawrasia are likely to give me tough competition over the next two days.
“I’m now focusing on sharpening my game further ahead of the Asian Tour event in Japan next month. The conditions will be totally different in Japan so I’m planning my preparation accordingly. The emphasis is on the approach shots and putting.”
Shamim Khan (70-68) climbed from overnight tied seventh to second place after delivering the only bogey-free round of the day. Shamim sank three birdies from a range of 12 to 30 feet on Wednesday.
“My driving has been off but despite that I’ve dropped just one bogey in the tournament so far. My short-game has kept me in contention. I matched the course record of 63 in the year-ending tournament held at the RCGC last year. That is a positive memory that I’ve carried into this event,” said Shamim.
While overnight joint leader Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru slipped to third at five-under-139 after shooting a 71 on day two, local favourite SSP Chawrasia made major gains with a 70 that took him from overnight tied 18th to tied fourth at three-under-141.
Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh (71) and Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (71) joined Chawrasia in tied fourth.
Chiragh Kumar, the round one joint leader, slipped to tied 14th at even-par-144 after his second round of 76.
Kolkata-based rookie Viraj Madappa (eight-over-152) missed the cut.