S Chikkarangappa leaps to the top with 66 at DGC Open

The Delhi Golf Club is reputed to be a happy hunting ground for Indians and S Chikkarangappa reaped the rewards by taking a three-shot lead at the halfway mark of the DGC Open on Friday.

The 29-year-old carded a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to enter double figures after the first two rounds of the Asian Tour event at 10-under.

The bunch closest to him includes two Indians – Rashid Khan (70) and Om Prakash Chouhan (68) – as well as defending champion Nitithorn Thippong of Thailand (70).

Chikkarangappa is coming off a tied-sixth-place finish at last week’s event in Thailand, and the good form and vibes showed.

“I’m in good form. Last week’s performance in Thailand has definitely boosted me and brought a lot of confidence,” he said after his round. “I’ve been putting really well. My caddy and I discussed that we would try to hit the fairways and I’ve been striking the ball well.”

On Friday, Chikkarangappa started with a birdie on the 10th hole, and then went on a hot streak, finding birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th. That pace could not be sustained throughout the round, but he finished in style making birdies on the last two holes.

For a major part of the day, Rashid was the closest challenger to Chikkarangappa before two late bogeys (on 14 and 18) allowed others to catch up. That included Chouhan, who managed to go through his round without dropping a shot.

“Have to say I’m very happy with my round today. DGC is a course where even the smallest mistake can lead to a bogey. I missed just one fairway today, on nine when I hit the ball left, got my second shot into the bunker and made a great up and down from there,” the Mhow golfer said.

It was a good day in general for the Indian contingent with 24 of the 49 golfers who started the tournament making the cut, which came at two-over par 146 with 76 players surviving it. Those who will see action on the weekend include Jyoti Randhawa (73-69), Shiv Kapur (75-69), Shamim Khan (72-70), S.S.P Chawrasia (72-70) and Manav Jaini (74-72). Five Indians are inside the top 18 on the leaderboard.

Justin Quiban, one of the three players tied second overnight, shot 1-under 71 with an eagle, two birdies and three bogeys and is 6-under along with Thailand’s Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (71-67), who lost in a sudden-death play-off last week in Thailand.

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