Overnight joint-leader Feroz Ali grabbed the initiative in the second round to take a
three-stroke lead in the Airtel Open, the 14th event on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour, being played at the par-70 Bombay Presidency Golf Club in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The former Indian Open champion added a two-under par 68 to his overnight 67 to be five-under par 135 after 36 holes.
SSP Chowrasia shot a superb six-under par 64 to be placed second along with two others - Ali Sher and Ranjit Singh, who has a two-day total of two-under 138.
Uttam Singh Mundy submitted a card of two-under 68 to be tied for the fifth place along with Harinder Gupta, Mukesh Kumar and Jaiveer Virk.
As many as 56 players made it to the money-making rounds after the cut was applied at seven-over 147.
Feroz Ali, with a monster drive and a seven-iron approach shot on the opening hole, made a birdie missing the 20-foot eagle putt. Strong winds blowing in the later part of the day made shot-making all the more difficult. The Kolkatan made two successive birdies on the third and fourth to be three-under.
However, consecutive bogeys on the sixth and seventh where he three-putted on the former, Feroz made a birdie on the eight to take the turn at two-under par.
With two more bogeys on the 12th and 15th, Feroz was level par for the day. However, a couple of birdies (16th and 18th) in the last three holes saved the day for the 36-year-old.
"My short game was not up to the mark, especially my wedges. The bogeys were resultant of my bad wedge shots," said the leader, who hit just 11 greens-in regulation and had 28 putts for the day.
"It is too early to predict the winner. Personally, I am keen to win my first title of the season," said Feroz, who is currently in the ninth position on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour Order of Merit list and has six top-ten finishes thus far.
Meanwhile, SSP Chowrasia fondly known as "Chip-putt Chowrasia" for his extremely good short game is recuperating from a wrist injury he incurred last year. Playing in only his fourth tournament on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season, the Kolkatan showed no signs of lay-off as he began his birdie spree right from the first hole. The diminutive golfer then made an eagle-two on the par-5 fourth where he chipped-in from the bunker.
With birdies on the fifth and seventh, Chowrasia looked set for a good score. Making successive birdies on the 11th and 12th, the former a long-ranger from 30 feet, he was in full flow. If only his hitting supported his short game, he could well have set a course record. Another birdie on the 16th after hitting the wall on his second shot, he made an up and down for a birdie while on the 18th, with a 30-footer left to right putt. The three bogeys he incurred were all on the par-3s - 2nd, 6th and 8th.
"Going by the way I hit the ball, I am lucky to get a score of six-under par 66," said Chowrasia who hit 12 greens and had 25 putts for the day.
Top scores (after 36 holes) (Pro): 135_Feroz Ali (67,68); 138_SSP Chowrasia (74,64); Ali Sher (70,68), Ranjit Singh (67,71), 139_Uttam Singh Mundy (71,68), Harinder Gupta (70,69), Mukesh Kumar (70,69), Jaiveer Virk (70,69), 140_Naman Dawar (70,70), S Madaiah (70,70), Arjun Singh (69,71), Prakash Kubde (67,73).
Amateurs: 157_Mehul Rastogi (80,77), 160_Rishi Bali (77,83).