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Kochi, 01 Feb 2018

Syed Saqib Ahmed soars to the top on the back of a hole-in-one, leads by four

Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed hardly put a foot wrong during his second round of six-under-66 that helped him soar to the top of the leaderboard at the PGTI Cochin Masters presented by CIAL Golf Club. Saqib, whose round on Thursday featured a hole-in-one, totaled nine-under-135 at the halfway stage to lead by a massive four shots. 

First round leader Amardip Sinh Malik of Noida dropped to second place after his round of even-par-72 took his total to five-under-139 at the Rs. 40 lakh event.

The cut was declared at five-over-149 on an extremely windy day. Fifty-three professionals made the cut.

Twenty-three-year-old Syed Saqib Ahmed (69-66) climbed from overnight tied third to the top as he fired the best round of the tournament so far that was punctuated by a hole-in-one on the 14th, five birdies and a bogey.

Saqib, who had a top-10 on the PGTI last year and finished 53rd on the Order of Merit, began well on Thursday, leaving himself a tap-in birdie on the second where he nearly chipped-in. His only blemish of the round came on the fourth but he more than made up with a chip-in birdie on the next.

Ahmed then raced away into the lead with three long putts on the ninth, 11th and 12th. But the highlight of his round came on the 14th where he made a hole-in-one after his shot landed an inch beyond the hole and spun back into the cup. He did miss a couple of short birdie putts thereafter but that did not stop him from taking the lead in a tournament for the first time in his three-year-long professional career.

A confident Saqib said, “I’m really pleased about today’s effort. It’s great to lead an event for the first time in my professional career. Everything just felt right today. I was in a good frame of mind from the very start and that translated into a great score.

“There was also less pressure as I was playing alongside my good friend Divyanshu Bajaj. We even played the practice round together here. We enjoy each other’s company and that just eased the pressure for me as it felt like just another round of golf.

“The hole-in-one was special as I saw the ball roll in. I was actually between clubs there and I guess the decision to play the nine-iron just paid off. I’m glad that Divyanshu was also there when it happened.

“I didn’t come to this event with any expectations so I have no fixed goals in mind for the next two days as well. I didn’t have a great 2017 so I’m just looking to turn the tide this year.”

Amardip Sinh Malik (67-72) had a mixed day with six birdies and an equal number of bogeys. He made a long eagle conversion on the second and chipped-in for birdie on the eighth but also found the hazard on a couple of occasions.

Kolkata’s Shankar Das and Chandigarh’s Abhijit Singh Chadha were tied for third at four-under-140.

Defending champion Mukesh Kumar (77-73) of Mhow missed the cut by one shot as his two-day total read six-over-150.
 
 
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