Nov 21, 2019: Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat, inspired by his career-best tied eighth finish on the Asian Tour last week, struck an eight-under-64 to take the halfway lead at the IndianOil Servo Masters Golf 2019, a Rs. 60 lakh event, being played at the Digboi Golf Links. The 2017 runner-up Ahlawat totaled 11-under-133 on day two.
Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj returned a 65 to rise to tied second at 10-under-134. Bajaj was joined by Bengaluru golfers, M Dharma (67), his playing partner and Abhishek Jha (68) in tied second.
Veer Ahlawat (69-64), who was overnight tied eighth and three off the lead, began with an early bogey on the third where he found the hazard. However, the long-hitting Veer soon made amends thanks to his fabulous driving as he picked up birdies on the fifth, seventh and ninth.
Ahlawat, who lost out in a playoff to Shamim Khan at the 2017 edition of the event, went on to add an eagle and four more birdies on the back-nine to power his way to the top of the leaderboard. The six-foot four-inch tall Veer drove the green on the par-four 14th before sinking a 17-footer for an eagle-two.
Veer said, “I’m carrying the confidence from the outstanding finish I had at the Classic Golf & Country Club during the Panasonic Open India last week. It was my best ever result on the Asian Tour. I drove really well, hit it straight and hardly missed a putt today. I managed to hang in there despite a poor start as I was one-over through the first four holes.
“My driving average has been 310 yards of late which has helped me set up relatively easier approaches to the greens. There is a premium on hitting the fairways at this venue. I made most fairways and thus created a lot of opportunities.
“I have some good memories from this course having finished runner-up here in 2017 and posting a tied 10th in 2018. Those good results add to my confidence going into the money rounds,” added Ahlawat, who is currently in seventh position on the TATA Steel PGTI Order of Merit.
Divyanshu Bajaj’s (69-65) error-free 65 came as a result of his much-improved iron-play on day two as he hit it closer as compared to round one. Divyanshu also had four birdie conversions from a range of 10 to 15 feet. Bajaj thus gained six spots form his overnight tied eighth.
M Dharma (67-67) shot a second straight 67 to hold on to his overnight joint second position. Dharma, in good putting form on the first two days, mixed six birdies with a bogey on Thursday. He missed an eagle by a whisker on the seventh where his chip almost found the hole.
Abhishek Jha (66-68), the overnight leader by one shot, slipped to tied second after a 68 that featured seven birdies and three bogeys. He rallied with birdies on his last four holes thanks to some top-class chipping.
Om Prakash Chouhan (70) of Mhow occupies fifth place at seven-under-137.
Three-time winner and defending champion Shamim Khan of Delhi was placed tied 29th at one-under-143.
The cut came down at one-over-145. Fifty-four professionals made the cut.
Teenager Kshitij Naveed Kaul of Delhi, ranked fourth on the PGTI Order of Merit, the highest in the current field, missed the cut by one shot.
All the six Digboi-based professionals missed the cut.