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Shamim seizes lead

- City boy Shankar & Chadha hit 5-under to post day’s best score
Shamim Khan, at the RCGC, on Thursday. A Telegraph picture

Calcutta: Picking up a new putter, just before teeing off on Day II of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship, Shankar Das had told to himself: ‘I have to take this chance’. Playing with a new putter is always a risky business for a pro.

But Shankar was ready to go for the jugular. After all on the first day — he had a two-over and lying at tied 32nd position — did not go the way he would have envisaged.

And the new putter did not let him down. At the end of Day II, Shankar, who picked up the basics of the game at the very same Royal Calcutta Golf Club, returned with a card of five-under, which catapulted him to the tied third position. He shared the day’s best score with Chandigarh-based Abhijit Singh Chadha (74, 67).

“The new putter had a very nice feel. I did not do well yesterday with my old putter. I think the new one had the desired effect,” said Shankar who was with Anirban Lahiri and Vinod Kumar on the second day. Even Lahiri was effusive in praising Shankar. “He putted really well today.”

Shankar had five birdies and two bogies. On the back-nine Shankar was setting the course on fire hitting a hat-trick of birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th hole.

“I really played well on the back-nine”, Shankar revealed. “The crowd support also helped me. My friends came in droves to back me today,” a smiling Shankar said.

Ahead of Shankar are Delhi’s Shamim Khan who fired a four-under-68 to seize the lead.

Shamim’s total stands at six-under-138 and one stroke behind him is followed by senior pro Mukesh Kumar of Mhow who shot a 71.

Shamim, who was overnight tied fifth, dropped a bogey early on in his round after his tee shot found the rough on the third hole. The 38-year-old, currently placed second on the Rolex Rankings, soon turned the tide with eagle-birdie on the next two holes.

Shamim eagled the par-5 fourth after hitting the green in two shots and subsequently converting the six feet putt.

He then sank a 20-footer to birdie the fifth.

Shamim, a three-time winner in the current PGTI season, conceded a bogey on the sixth but came back fighting with a sublime effort on the back-nine where he birdied the 13th, 16th and 17th. He sank a monstrous 35-feet putt on the 13th and chipped-in from behind the green on the 17th.

Twenty-one-year-old Chadha, meanwhile, said he has a very good chance of a top-three finish in this season-ending PGTI meet. “My driving today was very good but my putting was not upto the desired level. The rough here is very upů

“On the first day I missed a lot of fairways, but on Thursday I hit the fairways 10 out of 14. So if I can continue playing like this I will definitely have a good finish,” the silver medallist of the 2010 Asian Games said.

Jyoti Randhawa with four birdies and two bogeys in his round of 70 was the third golfer in tied third position.

Local favourite SSP Chowrasia is a further shot back and shares the sixth spot with Vijay Kumar of Lucknow and Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera. Lahiri and Rashid Khan are joint ninth with totals of one-under-143. “I am still in the mix,” Lahiri, who hit birdies on the second, fourth, 10th, 12th and the 16th hole.