*Angad Cheema

Gurugram, 25 February,: Angad Cheema returned one under par 71 on day two to stay tied second, five shots behind leader Yannik Paul of Germany in the US$ 2 million Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf Club here on Friday.

Overnight leader Paul added a 69 to his overnight 65 to grow his 36-hole total to 10-under 134, even as Thursday’s best-placed Indian Honey Baisoya slipped up after an encouraging start with a birdie. Baisoya had a nightmarish patch on his first nine, the back stretch of the course, where he had two doubles and one bogey. The local boy ended the day with a 74, which with his opening 66, gave him a share of sixth place on four-under 140.

Besides Cheema, there were three others who were at five-under which included  Gudmundur Kristjansson (71), a physics graduate and the highest world-ranked Icelandic player, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen (72) and German veteran Marcel Siem (70)., 

Overall, half of the 32 Indians in the field made the cut that fell at four-over 148. Order of Merit 2022 topper Manu Gandas (70-73) and Veer Ahlawat (73-70) were in shared 19th place on one-under 143, while Chikkarangappa S. (75-69) put in a strong recovery in round two to sit along with Sachin Baisoya (75-69) on level par 144.

DLF Golf Academy trainee Kartik Sharma was tied 44th on 146 with Karandeep Kochhar, Khalin Joshi and three others, while two-time winner S.S.P. Chawrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Shiv Kapur and M. Dharma all made it to the weekend on the line. 

However, the three-time champion Jyoti Randhawa, defending champion Stephen Gallacher (73), Thomas Bjorn (77), three-time former champion Jyoti Randhawa (78), Rashid Khan (81) and Guido Migliozzi (78 )missed the cut.

Cheema followed his opening day’s four-under 68 with a 71 to sit alongside Finland’s Mikko Korhonen (72), Iceland’s Gudmundur Kristjansson (71) and Germany’s Marcel Siem (70), who were all on five-under 139 with Cheema at the end of the second day as scoring grew progressively tougher.

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*Honey Baisoya

“It is a tough golf course, and you have to stay patient,” the Chandigarh-based Cheema said later. “You have to stay patient and I’ve been trying to work on that, not only on this golf course but also in general. 

“I’ve got to keep doing that. I don’t know what the key is, you have to try and stay patient. It’s a proud feeling to be the leading Indian. It’s a good feeling to be up there, it’s not going to be easy but I’ve just got to go out there and do my best,” the 33-year-old added.

Yuvraj Sandhu (70-71) returned in the morning to complete his opening round of 70 and returned shortly after for his second round and added 71. He tied for eighth place on three under 141 while Shubhankar Sharma rued a cold putter that saw him slip into a tie for 13th alongside Yashas Chandra and four others.

Sharma reached both Par-5s on the front nine in two but could only reap pars from both potential eagle opportunities. “The pins were quite tough and in tight positions which is never easy, so that was the case but again tomorrow is another day. Hopefully things will go in my favour tomorrow,” he said later.

“It's always good to finish a round here and try to figure whatever your problems are and not keep it till tomorrow,” he added

Overall, half of the 32 Indians in the field made the cut that fell at four-over 148. Order of Merit 2022 topper Manu Gandas (70-73) and Veer Ahlawat (73-70) were in shared 19th place on one-under 143, while Chikkarangappa S. (75-69) put in a strong recovery in round two to sit along with Sachin Baisoya (75-69) on level par 144.

DLF Golf Academy trainee Kartik Sharma was tied 44th on 146 with Karandeep Kochhar, Khalin Joshi and three others, while two-time winner S.S.P. Chawrasia, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Shiv Kapur and M. Dharma all made it to the weekend on the line. However, the three-time champion Jyoti Randhawa missed the cut.

“I like India, it’s my first time in India. Every tournament I’m going to, I’m trying to win, so I’ll just see what the weekend brings and take it from there. I probably played almost better today than yesterday (when he shot  65). I felt the pins were in tougher spots today so you had a lot of downhill putts where you think you have a good look but it’s actually two or three cups’ break.  I think the course suits my game,”  said Paul

Kristjansson, who came through the Qualifying School, is five behind. He said, “It’s very nice. I’ve had a decent last two weeks (he made the cut in his last two starts), compared to what came before. There is some nice progression in my game. I’m just loving it out there. I like going to new places so these last few weeks have been lovely.”

Korhonen added, “We’ll see what happens on the weekend, things can happen quickly on this course. You need to stay patient. I made a double on 17 today and you just can’t miss it in the rough on that hole. Period.”

Japan’s Masters-bound Kazuki Higa who had the day’s best card of bogey-free 66 while through an interpreter said he hardly missed a green and the 18th was a rare miss, where he nearly a shot from the rough for a birdie. He took a par on that hole.

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