Kochi, April 13, 2017: Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta continued to build on his terrific start to the 2017 PGTI season as he rose to the top in round two of the PGTI Cochin Masters presented by CIAL Golf Club as a result of his sublime seven-under-65, the week’s best score so far. Gupta established a three-shot lead as his total moved to nine-under-135.
Mukesh Kumar of Mhow, the 2015 champion, made his way to joint second place at six-under-138 after posting a four-under-68 on Thursday. He shared second place along with overnight joint leader Shivendra Singh Sisodia (71) of Delhi.
The cut went at four-over-148 with a total of 54 players making it to the money rounds.
Harendra Gupta (70-65), lying tied 10th and three off the lead after the first round, made his move on day two thanks to an incredible tally of eight birdies which came at the expense of just one bogey. Gupta, playing with new irons since the start of the season, looked in total control through the day as he made greens in regulation in 17 out of 18 holes.
Harendra, currently ranked fifth in the PGTI Order of Merit courtesy his four top-10s in the first five events of the season, scored on the two par-3s on the back-nine with some outstanding tee shots that left him birdie putts within a range of six feet. He also picked up a shot on the par-5 16th to make the turn at a promising three-under.
Gupta’s front-nine featured two 20-feet birdie conversions and a couple of excellent chip-putt birdies. The 32-year-old, a winner of nine professional titles, only missed the green on the seventh and ended up dropping his lone bogey on that hole.
Harendra said, “I was not at my best last year even though I won a title in Pune. But I feel my game is now slowly coming back. I changed my irons at the start of the season and that has had a positive effect on my game. The runner-up finish in Dhaka last month gave me a further boost.
“I’m eager to do well at the CIAL Golf Club since I missed the cut here last year. My ball-striking has been exceptional on the first two days as I’ve hardly missed the greens. With the growth of trees on either side of the fairways this year, hitting maximum fairways assumes greater importance. That will be the priority in the last two rounds.”
The seasoned Mukesh Kumar (70-68) gained eight spots from his overnight tied 10th after a bogey-free 68 in round two. After winning in 2015, Mukesh had missed the cut at the PGTI Cochin Masters in 2016.
Mukesh said, “My hitting has helped me set up a lot of birdies since round one but my putting has been a big letdown on both days. However, I enjoy playing at this venue having won here in 2015. This round has given me the launch pad for the last two days.”
Shivendra Singh Sisodia (67-71) slipped from overnight joint first to tied second place after a 71 in round two.
Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh, another joint leader from round one, dropped to fourth place at five-under-139 following his second round of 72.
Greater Noida-based Sudhir Sharma, also part of the leading trio on day one, occupied tied fifth place at four-under-140 along with five others at the halfway stage.
Defending champion Feroz Ali Mollah (69-75) of Kolkata was in tied 16th place at even-par-144.
Asian Tour regular Rahil Gangjee of Bengaluru was placed tied 36th at three-over-147.
All the three local professionals in the field, M Anand (10-over-154), Madesh K (17-over-161) and Vivek V S (20-over-164), missed the cut.