Flawless Chikka surges to solo lead
The 29-year-old was tied-sixth overnight but produced a bogey-free performance on Day 2 as a total of 24 Indians made the cut in the $750,000 Asian Tour event
S Chikkarangappa enjoyed a bogey-free day to card six-under (total 10-under) and jump from an overnight tied-sixth to solo lead on Day 2 of the $750,000 DGC Open in New Delhi on Friday. He now holds a three-stroke advantage over compatriot Rashid Khan who made bogeys on 15th and 18th holes but managed to hold on to his second spot under overcast conditions.
"The course was a lot softer and it was much easier to attack the flags. If the greens get firmer and it's sunny, it plays a lot more difficult, so I would say luck was on my side with the weather," Chikkarangappa said.
The 29-year-old came into the competition on the back of a tied-sixth finish at International Series Thailand last week, and the confidence showed.
"I am in a good form, for sure. Last week's performance in Thailand has given me a lot of confidence. Of course, the cool weather helped me throughout the round," he added.
Teeing off from back nine, Chikka birdied on the 10th, 12th, 14th, and 15th holes to set the tone. Things slowed down a bit after that but Chikka ensured he didn't drop a shot. He closed the day with consecutive birdies on the eighth and ninth to steer clear of the field.
"I missed a few putts in my back nine (holes 1-9) but then I made birdies on the last two holes. Overall, six birdies with 12 pars is an amazing result."
"I've been putting really well. My caddy and I decided to just try and hit the fairways, and I'll take it from there," said Chikka who completely shunned his driver on the day to find more fairways.
Rashid, the best Indian on view on Wednesday, shot two-under to finish with an overall seven-under. The 32-year-old had earlier stressed on the importance of having bogey-free days but ended up dropping shots on the 15th and 18th holes. Birdies on the eighth, 12th, 13th, and 17th ensured he kept his second spot before the experienced Om Prakash Chouhan joined him later in the day.
Chouhan, who has had two top-10 finishes out of three starts on the PGTI tour this year, was overnight T-11 thanks largely to a 16th-hole bogey that ended his chances of a possible top-five finish. He was more cautious on Day 2, doing away with the driver and relying on his irons to hit the greens.
"It is a course where even the smallest mishit can lead to a bogey. I missed just one fairway today (on hole 9) when I hit the ball left, got my second shot into the bunker, and made a great up and down from there," the 36-year-old from Mhow said.
"Things are going according to my plan and for the first time on this course, probably because I play and practice at Kalhaar in Ahmedabad, where the conditions and the green speeds are very similar."
"I did miss quite a few putts for birdie but overall, I’m very happy with the way I have played so far. The greens are quite hard but the fairways are playing soft so these are good conditions for us. I did think it might rain but that has also not happened so far," he said.
The experienced bunch of Gaganjeet Bhullar, Jyoti Randhawa, Shiv Kapur, and SSP Chawrasia were among the 24 Indians who made the cut.
Defending champion Nitithorn Thippong and his Thai compatriot Sadom Kaewkanjana also ended with seven-under to finish tied-second.