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Sanjay grabs halfway lead

- Double bogey on 11th pegs Anirban back to second spot

Calcutta: A horrendous approach shot on the 11th hole put overnight leader Anirban Lahiri off the track as Sanjay Kumar took pole position after Round II of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship, being held at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, on Friday.

The Lucknow-based golfer carded a solid four-under-68 to grab the halfway lead and Anirban hit one-under 71 to be one shot off the lead.

Sanjay’s total reads eight-under-136 as the year-ending event of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) goes to the business end.

Anirban’s shot landed at the cart path and from there he missed the green. He once again missed a chip and putt and ended the par-4 hole with a double bogey.

The blemish rattled the three-time winner on the Asian Tour so much that on the 13th he once again had a bogey due to a poor bunker shot. However, he recovered well as he sank two 10-footers for birdies on the 14th and 16th.

“That approach shot almost ruined my day. I would still say I did not make my share of putts today. But going into the weekend, I am in a good position. It will be interesting to see how the next two days unfold at the Royal,” Anirban said.

Sanjay (68-68), meanwhile, was going about his job without any fuss. His 15-feet birdie putt on the first hole laid the platform for him on Day II.

The 42-year-old, a winner of six professional titles, consolidated thereafter with birdies on the fifth and 12th, sinking putts from eight to 12 feet. His only bogey came on the 13th where he missed a chip-putt.

The seasoned golfer, who turned professional back in 1987, more than made up for his lapse on the 13th with birdie putts from a range of six to eight feet on the 15th and 17th.

“I hit it better today as compared to round one. I also landed it close on several occasions. The birdie on the opening hole got me in rhythm. I capitalised on the good start from there on. Importantly, I just dropped one bogey today.

“I’m not looking at a number for Round III but will look to hit maximum fairways. The fairways are narrow here, so once you find the fairway, hitting the green in regulation becomes easier,” said Sanjay, currently placed 23rd on the Rolex Rankings.

He added: “I’ve not had the greatest of seasons, but still managed three top-10 finishes on the PGTI this year. The win on the PGTI Feeder Tour at my home course in Lucknow this October lifted my confidence.

“I’ve been playing better since then. My wife and two sons are here this week and my elder son (Shashank) is following me on the course. I feel that is an added incentive for me to perform well this week.”

Local favourite Rahil Gangjee kept hopes alive as he shot a 68 to end round two in tied third at six-under-138. Gangjee’s second-round was punctuated by five birdies and a bogey and included two birdie putts from 20 to 25 feet.

Abhinav Lohan of Faridabad joined Rahil in tied third after signing a card of 70 that featured four birdies and two bogeys.

Jyoti Randhawa and Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh are a further shot back in tied fifth place. Randhawa posted an even-par-72 to drop from overnight second place.

Rolex Rankings leader Rashid Khan is in tied 10th place at three-under-141 while Gaganjeet Bhullar lies tied 15th at two-under-142.