Bengaluru: Trishul Chinnappa (pictured, left) of Bengaluru and Greater Noida’s Sudhir Sharma (pictured, right), both fighting to save their PGTI cards, climbed to the top at nine-under-135 with tournament-best scores of seven-under-65 while Delhi’s Kapil Kumar also joined them in the halfway lead courtesy a five-under-67 in round two of the Bengaluru Open Golf Championship 2019 at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) course in Bengaluru on Wednesday (December 18).

Bengaluru’s Rahil Gangjee (68) and Chandigarh’s Karandeep Kochhar (69) were in tied fourth, one shot off the pace at the Rs. 40 lakh event which is also the penultimate leg of the 2019 PGTI season.

Also read: Bengaluru Open Round 1 report

The cut was applied at two-over-146. Fifty-three professionals and two amateurs made the cut.

Trishul (70-65), currently 60th on the PGTI Order of Merit, produced a timely 65 peppered with nine birdies and two bogeys at his home course KGA to significantly improve his chances of securing his PGTI card in the last full-field event of the season.

The 26-year-old Trishul had a slow start with two bogeys and a birdie on his first five holes on the back-nine. But he scrambled well for the rest of his round as he got himself out of tough spots to salvage birdies on quite a few occasions.

Trishul made four consecutive birdies from the 15th through the 18th to come back strongly. Trishul produced his best shot of the day on the 16th when he curved his approach from the trees over the water and landed it within five feet of the pin.

Trishul, who has five top-20s on the PGTI this season, put together four more birdies on the front-nine including three on the trot from the third through the fifth. He made a great recovery from the bunker on the fifth.

Trishul said, “I managed to get out of trouble on quite a few occasions today. I can improve on the places that I’m putting myself in so that I don’t need to come up with heroic shots such as the approach over the water on the 16th. Playing in home conditions always helps as there are a lot of areas on this course where I’ve been before and where I’ve played from before. There is that familiarity.

“Importantly, I followed up both my bogeys with birdies today. It shows I have the confidence to come back hard with some good shots immediately after dropping a stroke,” added Trishul, who gained 14 spots on Wednesday.

Sudhir (70-65), also struggling this season as he is currently 54th in the PGTI Rankings, made good progress towards retaining his PGTI card with a bogey-free 65. The 32-year-old Sudhir, who set a course record in Chandigarh this year, has had a patchy season with a top-10 and three other top-20s to show.

Sudhir was not in the best of hitting form in round two but putted extremely well as four of his seven birdies came as a result of conversions from 10 to 12 feet. He had a lucky break on the 13th where his erratic tee shot bounced on the edge of the bunker and rolled towards the hole. Sudhir too moved up 14 places in round two.

Sudhir, a joint runner-up at the Asian Tour’s 2017 Panasonic Open India, said, “My inconsistent putting has affected my results this year. I’ve played well whenever the putter has been hot for me. When the putting hasn’t clicked there has been too much pressure on my hitting and I’ve not done well. Today, I found only eight fairways out of 14 and still shot a 65 that just proves how good my putting was.”

Kapil Kumar (68-67), who was overnight tied fourth and one off the lead, jumped three spots with a second round of 67 that had a sprinkling of six birdies and a bogey. Kapil, fresh from a top-5 finish last week in Kolkata, hit it close all day as his approach and wedge shots were precise. He also converted most of his chances on the greens.

Round one joint leader Karandeep Kochhar dropped three spots to tied fourth at eight-under-136 thanks to his mixed round that featured seven birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey.

Rahil was also in joint fourth after an eventful day that saw him make six birdies and a double-bogey. He fought back well with four birdies on the back-nine.

M Dharma in seventh at six-under-138 and 18-year-old amateur Akshay Neranjan, playing only his second professional event, in tied eighth at four-under-140, made it four Bengalureans in the top-10.

Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow, one of the three first round joint leaders, slipped to tied eighth after a 73 on Wednesday.

 Defending champion Anura Rohana of Sri Lanka was tied 11th along with Pune-based Udayan Mane, the 2017 champion, at three-under-141.

Bengaluru-based Aryan Roopa Anand, was the second amateur to make the cut. Aryan was tied 24th at one-under-143.

 Gurugram-based Veer Ahlawat, the highest-ranked player in the field, being third in the PGTI Order of Merit, was placed tied 47th at two-over-146.

Among those who missed the cut was joint round one leader Arun Kumar of Delhi. Arun followed up his first round 67 with an 82 in round two to total five-over-149.