Chan Kim from the United States shot a four-under-par 68 on yesterday to tie the lead with fellow rookie India’s Khalin Joshi at the SAIL-SBI Open in New Delhi.
The two newcomers maintained sparkling form with 20-year-old Joshi, who is making his professional debut on the Asian Tour, clocking a three-under-par 69.
Qualifying School winner Chan birdied his last four holes and now has a nine-under-par 135 total in the US$300,000 event.
A shot behind are India’s Rashid Khan, who stormed into contention with a sensational 64, and Siddikur of Bangladesh who returned a second successive 68. Indian Rahil Gangjee shot a 66 with two eagles to end the day two shots back.
Title holder Anirban Lahiri worked his way into the title mix with a 68, placing him on 139 alongside another home star Shiv Kapur, who scored a 70, and Thai duo Pawin Ingkhapradit (69) and Thitiphun Chuayprakong (67).
Joshi, India’s number one amateur last year, produced the shot of the round with an exquisite chip-in eagle on 14 before rolling in a six-footer at the last hole which he celebrated with a clenched fist.
“I didn’t feel any pressure. I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could. I’m looking forward to the next two days,” he said.
Chan produced a grandstand finish in his afternoon round to share the lead with Joshi. “I did feel some nerves in the last two holes and I controlled it well enough and stayed focussed,” he said.
Harding tops Africa qualifying for Open
Johannesburg: Spain’s Eduardo de la Riva and South Africans Justin Harding and Darren Lloyd earned a first appearance at the British Open after finishing in the top three at the African qualifying tournament on Wednesday.
Harding carded the best score after the two rounds of qualifying at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Gold Club with his 14-under-par total of 130.
“I’m so happy to get through - there are about 70 players here and a lot of them have won tournaments, both on the European and Sunshine Tours, and to get one of only three spots is incredible,” Harding told reporters.
De la Riva shot a 66 on the second day to finish on 11 under par and seal his place.
“This was a tough race, this week, but the course was perfect and my game was really good, so I’m happy that it all worked out so well,” he said.
Lloyd sunk a birdie on the last to seal his place at Muirfield in July with a final total of nine under par. “I live in England and that adds to the importance of this Championship for me - it’s really amazing that I’ll be playing at Muirfield,” he said.
Ireland’s Lowry ready to make his mark
New York: Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who upset World No. 1 Rory McIlroy in last month’s World Golf Championships Match Play event, is hoping to boost his chances of a USPGA Tour future this week.
Ranked 65th in the world, Lowry is among the top-rated players competing for a $630,000 top prize in the $3.5 million Puerto Rico Open, which opens on Thursday at the 7,506-yard, par-72 Trump International Puerto Rico resort.
“I want to play on the PGA Tour as much as I can,” Lowry said. “We were lucky enough that we did get an invite. Very grateful for that and hopefully I can make the most of it this week.”
Lowry hopes for a solid performance while an elite field of 65 players take part in this week’s $8.5 million WGC event at Doral in Miami, leaving the remainder of the PGA talent pool to chase the title in Puerto Rico.
Lowry went on to reach the third round after beating McIlroy in the first round two weeks ago. This week he plays his first PGA event that is not a WGC or major and hopes for a top-10 finish to book a spot in next week’s PGA Tampa Bay Championship.
“A top 10 would be great to get into next week,” he said. “If I can just focus on the first round on Thursday, try and shoot a good couple of scores, get me in contention, come Saturday afternoon and Sunday, you never know.”
American George McNeill will defend the title he won by two strokes last year over Ryo Ishikawa, the 21-year-old Japanese star who is back after having a PGA career-best runner-up effort last year.
South Korea’s K.J. Choi, at 69th, is also among the top-ranked players in Puerto Rico.
South Korean 17-year-old Kim Si Woo will make his second USPGA start on a sponsor’s exemption. He qualified for the tour last year but cannot play as a PGA Tour member until his 18th birthday in June.