Chennai, 02 Mar 2018

Mithun Perera, Vikrant Chopra make major gains in round two, move into joint lead with N Thangaraja

Hole-in-one for Anil Bajrang Mane

Sri Lankan Mithun Perera and Noida’s Vikrant Chopra made major gains in round two of the Chennai Open 2018 Golf Championship at the Madras Gymkhana Club Golf Annexe in Guindy on Friday.

Mithun and Vikrant fired scores of seven-under-63 and five-under-65 respectively to move into the joint lead with another Sri Lankan N Thangaraja (70) at nine-under-131.

Defending champion Mukesh Kumar of Mhow posted a four-under-66 to lie one shot off the lead in fourth place at eight-under-132.

Mithun Perera (68-63), who was tied 12th, seven shots behind the leader, after round one, worked his way up to the top with the day’s best score, a flawless round that featured seven birdies. Perera, a five-time winner on the PGTI, got off to a hot start with birdies on the first two holes where he made conversions from five feet.

Mithun, who made the turn at three-under, went on a birdie-spree thereafter picking up four shots between the 10th and the 14th. The Colombo-based professional produced his best shot of the day on the 10th when his approach from 140 yards landed inches from the pin. His birdies on the 11th and 14th were a result of two 15-feet conversions.

Perera, an Asian Tour regular, said, “The good birdie putts at the start gave me a lot of confidence as prior to this week I had struggled with my putting. I also made a lot of regulations today. It was good to be error-free at a course that is playing quite tough at the moment where one has to pay heavily for errant shots.

“I’ve been inconsistent in recent months and in fact even missed the cut last week in Hyderabad. So this round comes as a shot in the arm for me. It’ll now be fun to play with Thangaraja in the last two rounds as he is my regular practice partner and room partner this week.”

Vikrant Chopra (66-65), who was overnight tied third and five off the lead, also threw his hat in the ring with a top-class 65 on Friday. Chopra three-putted for bogey on the sixth but then rallied with birdies on the next three holes and a 25-feet eagle conversion on the 12th. Vikrant’s bogey on the 15th didn’t derail his round as he came back once again with birdies on the 16th and 18th.

Vikrant, yet to win a professional title in an individual event (he has won team events), said, “It was a good comeback after being one-over on the first six holes. The eagle on the 12th really kick-started my round. It was also good to sign off with a 15-feet birdie putt on the 18th today.

“The key here is to hit a lot of greens and I managed to do that today. I also executed my game-plan well by landing it on the fairways on the shorter par-4s instead of going for the greens. That set up relatively easier approach shots where the pins were tucked into corners.

“I had missed two cuts this season prior to this event. But I feel my scoring is now getting better and that’s a big boost heading into next week’s Indian Open.”

N Thangaraja (61-70), who had shot a course record equaling 61 for a three-shot lead in round one, conceded his sole lead on Friday after posting a quiet 70. Thanga’s short-game was off the mark in round two as he made five birdies and five bogeys.

Mukesh Kumar carded a second straight 66 to be placed tied fourth at eight-under-132, one shot ahead of Delhi’s Shamim Khan (69) and Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh (66), both of whom occupied tied fifth.

The only Tamil Nadu-based golfer to make the cut was rookie Shivnaren Srinivasan (70-69) of Chennai. Shivnaren was tied 25th at one-under-139.

The cut fell at three-over-143. Fifty-eight professionals made the halfway cut.

Mumbai’s Anil Bajrang Mane, who made a hole-in-one on the 17th during his second round of 71, made the cut by one shot as he totaled three-over-143.

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