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Ashok Kumar snatches the lead
June 02, 2005 21:32 IST
Ashok Kumar shot a bogey-free round of five-under par 67 for a two-round total of eight-under par 136 at the end of the half-way stage of the coveted Rs 45-lakh Amby Valley PGA Championship of India, promoted by the PGA of India and supported by Tiger Sports Marketing, on Thursday.
The Gurgaon-based pro led by a solitary stroke over Shiv Kapur, the overnight leader.
The Lion of Lucknow, Vijay Kumar, with a good back nine, added a 68 to his overnight 70 to be six-under for the tournament and was in third position.
Lesser-known Shamim Khan matched Ashok Kumar's effort of five-under par 67 to share the fourth spot with Gaurav Ghei at 139.
Asian Tour regulars Amandeep Johl and Arjun Singh were tied for the sixth sort at four-under par 140.
Exactly 50 professionals and one amateur -- India captain Jaideep Patwardhan made it to the weekend-rounds in the second richest tournament of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season, after the cut was applied at eight-over 152.
The prominent players to pack their bags were No. 5 on the Order of Merit Rafick Ali, Indrajit Bhalotia, and Yusuf Ali.
Ashok Kumar, who is on a new high of confidence, looked like a man on a mission. After a satisfactory opening round of 69, the 23-year-old took time to settle, making pars for the first seven holes before sinking a 15-footer on the par-3 eighth for his first birdie of the day. Making the turn with that lone birdie, the "Indian version of Tiger Woods" as he is called, made a hat-trick of birdies starting from the 13th.
On the par-5 14th, a driver-3 wood combination saw Ashok within 30 feet for an eagle. However, he rolled the ball to be inches short and made a birdie.
Ashok, who was four-under for the day after 17, signed off with an amazing birdie on the finishing hole. With a good driver and a 9-iron approach, the pro from DLF Golf and Country Club who is sponsored by Usha, holed a 20-footer.
"I am happy that everything is flowing smoothly. I am driving it, though my putting looks a bit suspect," said Ashok, who hit 17 greens-in-regulation and made 31 putts for the day and is in pursuit of his sixth title on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season.
Shiv Kapur, who had a three-stroke lead, failed to repeat his opening round performance, failing miserably with his putter. Beginning from the 10th, Shiv made a tentative start and flirted with birdie opportunities but failed to convert none till the 18th. On the back nine, his steady game was interrupted with a bogey on the fifth as he returned to the club with a level-par score.
"I am disappointed with my putting today. I could have had a better score," said Shiv.
A 10th tee starter Vijay Kumar made an early birdie on the par-4 11th. And while he was in good nick, he met with bad luck incurring two bogeys on the finishing holes of his front nine. Saving a stroke on the par-4 fifth, Vijay closed in with three straight birdies on the finishing holes to submit a card of four-under for the day.
"I kept the ball in fairway and that was the key," said Vijay.
Shamim Khan, meanwhile, made six birdies, beginning with a pair of them on the opening holes and a pair of them on the fifth and sixth, the latter with a 40-feet effort. On the return journey, the 25-year-old added two more birdies to his kitty on the 12th and 14th. However, he lost a stroke on the penultimate hole to finish five-under for the day.
Top Scores after 36 holes (Pros): 136_ Ashok Kumar (69,67); 137_Shiv Kapur (65,72); 138_Vijay Kumar (70,68); 139_Shamim Khan (72,67), Gaurav Ghei (70,69); 140_Amandeep Johl (71,69), Arjun Singh (68,72); 141_SSP Chowrasia (70,71); 142_Harinder Gupta (70,72); 144_D Patel (75,69), US Mundy (73,71), S Madaiah (72,72), Vivek Bhandari (72,72), Mukesh Kumar (71,73).
Amateurs: 143_Jaideep Patwardhan (72,71); 158_Amit Nigam (81,77); 163_Mehul Rastogi (82,81).