Mukesh Kumar

Kolkata, March 22 (IANS) Golfer Mukesh Kumar grabbed the halfway lead at the Kolkata Classic courtesy his second round of four-under 68 here at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) on Wednesday.

The Mhow-based golfer was ahead by one as his total read seven-under 137. Delhi’s Shamim Khan also fired a second round score of 68 to occupy second place at six-under 138. His was the only bogey-free round of the day.

SSP Chawrasia, the pre-tourney favourite, brought in a card of 70 to end the day in tied fourth at three-under 141 total.

The cut fell at five-over-149. Fifty-four professionals made the cut.

Mukesh (69-68) moved up two spots from overnight tied third to first as a result of his gritty second round effort which saw him notch up five birdies at the expense of just one bogey.

The 51-year-old, the winner of a record 18 titles on the PGTI who registered his first international win last year in Delhi, began his ascent to the top with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the fourth on Wednesday.

Mukesh’s birdie on the eighth was negated by a bogey on the 10th but the oldest winner on the Asian Tour came roaring back with a trail of birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th.

He was in troubled waters on the 15th and 16th but made excellent recoveries to extract birdies on both holes.

“I have two victories at the RCGC, but it’s been a while since I last won here, definitely over a decade. So I’m eager to perform well this time. I was quite pleased with the way I recovered on a couple of holes today. I was in the bunker on the 15th and in the rough on the 16th, but managed birdies on both occasions,” Mukesh said later.

Shamim Khan (70-68) climbed from overnight tied seventh to second place after delivering the only bogey-free round of the day. Shamim sank three birdies from a range of 12 to 30 feet on Wednesday.

While overnight joint leader S. Chikka of Bengaluru slipped to third at five-under 139 after shooting a 71 on the second day, Indian Open winner Chawrasia made major gains with a 70 that took him from overnight tied 18th to tied fourth.

Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh (71) and Sri Lankan N. Thangaraja (71) joined Chawrasia in tied fourth.

Delhi’s Rashid Khan and PGTI Order of Merit leader Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh were in tied 31st place at three-over 147.

Kolkata-based rookie Viraj Madappa (eight-over 152) missed the cut.

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