Veer Ahlawat shot 67 to earn a two-stroke lead over Ajeetesh Sandhu

Veer Ahlawat drew from his experience on the new Gary Player layout at the DGC to shoot an elegant 67 in the second round

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Veer Ahlawat - Paul Lakatos - Asian Tour

25 March 2022: India’s Veer Ahlawat has a two-shot lead at the midway point of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard, over compatriot Ajeetesh Sandhu.

Ahlawat added a five-under-par 67 to his opening 68 at Delhi Golf Club (DGC) to move to nine under, while Sandhu shot a 68 in a tournament that is the first Asian Tour event played in India since the end of 2019.

Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong is a stroke further back after returning a 70, while Gaganjeet Bhullar from India (66) and Thailand’s Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (67) and Kasidit Lepkurte (68) are another shot behind.

First-round leaders Travis Smyth from Australia and Indian Shankar Das slipped back after shooting 73 and 74, to lie four and three under respectively.

Ahlawat’s round was both brilliant and composed: he started on the back nine and made the turn in five under with four birdies in a row from 12 and another on 17 before nine pars on his second nine.

“My swing is feeling pretty good, so I was pretty confident that if I keep hitting it in the fairway, I’m going to hit good second shots so that was my plan for today,” said the 26 year old.

“Just keep it in play – you don’t have to hit it long off the tee, just keep it in play. The wind was much less today morning than yesterday afternoon. On the back nine, it did start blowing a little bit, but it wasn’t that much.

“I think my iron shots were on point today. I hit them pretty close, and I did hole putts, so my putting is also rolling pretty good.”

A professional since 2016 he has won once before on the Professional Golf Tour of India and impressed earlier this year in the SMBC Singapore Open, where he tied for fifth.

Sandhu is in search of his second win on the Asian Tour, having claimed the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in 2017.

And he put himself in position to do that over the weekend with a bogey free round highlighted by four birdies.

Nitihorn appears to have lost none of the fine form that saw him produce his best-ever result on the Asian Tour last month when he finished joint fourth in the Royal’s Cup on home soil.

He also heaped praised on the design changes made to the course by South African Gary Player here in 2019.

He said: “It’s my second time at DGC, first time was in 2015. Now, I feel the tee shot is easier because earlier you could easily hit the bushes, but right now the rough is there so it is easier to stay. Yeah, I mean I like the new greens, they are awesome. I like the many slopes, sometimes a bit difficult to read, but the green condition was really good.”

Bhullar, the most successful Indian on the Asian Tour with nine victories, shot the joint lowest round of the week so far helped by five birdies on the trot from hole 13.

He said: “I think this is my best round at DGC as a professional. I’ve shot six-under as a junior, an amateur, but I’ve never shot six-under as a pro. I’ve shot five under quite a few times. So, I think overall I played really well.”

The DGC Open presented by Mastercard is the fourth event on this year’s Asian Tour schedule and the first Asian Tour event played in India since the 2019 Panasonic Open India.

It’s the first time the US$500,000 event has been played.

Scores after round 2 of The DGC Open Presented By Mastercard being played at the par 72, 6957 Yards Delhi GC course (am – denotes amateur):

135 – Veer Ahlawat (IND) 68-67.
137 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 69-68.
138 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 68-70.
139 – Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 72-67, Kasidit Lepkurte (THA) 71-68, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 73-66.
140 – Manu Gandas (IND) 71-69, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 69-71, M Dharma (IND) 71-69, Kapil Kumar (IND) 74-66, Travis Smyth (AUS) 67-73.
141 – Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 71-70, Rashid Khan (IND) 72-69, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 71-70, Shankar Das (IND) 67-74.
142 – Amrit Lal (IND) 73-69.
143 – Angad Cheema (IND) 74-69, Dodge Kemmer (USA) 72-71, Mithun Perera (LKA) 73-70, Varun Parikh (IND) 70-73.
144 – Dhruv Sheoran (IND) 72-72, Aman Raj (IND) 71-73, Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 72-72, Paul Peterson (USA) 76-68, Shiv Kapur (IND) 71-73, Ian Snyman (RSA) 71-73.
145 – Om Prakash Chouhan (IND) 72-73, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (IND) 75-70, Md. Zamal Hossa Mollah (BAN) 71-74, Manav Jaini (IND) 72-73, Abhinav Lohan (IND) 72-73, Tapy Ghai (IND) 75-70.
146 – Justin Quiban (PHI) 74-72, Sachin Baisoya (IND) 71-75, Mohammad Sanju (IND) 73-73, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 73-73, William Harrold (ENG) 73-73, Ryoto Furuya (USA) 75-71, Cory Crawford (AUS) 72-74, Sydney Chung (USA) 73-73, Shamim Khan (IND) 71-75, Mani Ram (IND) 72-74, Yashas Chandra (IND) 73-73, Kevin Yuan (AUS) 71-75.