India's Abhijit Singh Chadha fired a sizzling seven-under 65 on day two to grab the second spot at the inaugural Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship here on Friday. Returning to his favourite venue, the Classic Golf & Country Club, Abhijit produced an error-free round that featured seven birdies to take his total to 11-under-133 and climb six spots in the USD 300,000 event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the TATA Steel PGTI.
The 28-year-old Abhijit, who fought his way back on to the Asian Tour after a three-year gap with a solid performance at the Qualifying School earlier this year, trails the halfway leader Rory Hie of Indonesia by one shot. The Indian duo of Rashid Khan (66), yet to drop a stroke in the tournament, and Aman Raj (67), who fired a second successive five-under, were in tied third with total scores of 10-under-134.
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid made a gain of five spots on Friday while Aman moved up two spots. Aadil Bedi, the fourth Indian in the top-10, struck a 68 on day two but slipped one position to tied sixth at nine-under-135.
Abhijit (68-65), who has won a title each at the junior, amateur and professional levels at the Classic Golf & Country Club (CG&CC), took advantage of his familiarity with the course to power ahead. Abhijit, a winner of two professionals titles on the TATA Steel PGTI, made a slow start as his first birdie of the day came on the 18th where fortune favoured him after his drive hit the tree and bounced back on the fairway.
Abhijit, who last won at the CG&CC during the 2015 BILT Open, was a different player on the front-nine where he collected six more birdies. The Chandigarh-based golfer was brilliant from 70 to 80 yards as he set up one-foot birdie conversions with his lob wedge shots on the third, fourth and eighth holes.
Abhijit, a silver medalist from the 2010 Asian Games, said, "I putted really well today and put myself in good positions. I made a lot of putts on the front nine. "I have won thrice on this course so I'm very comfortable on every tee shot and on the greens. It feels almost like a home course for me. I'm at ease with myself in pressure situations at this venue.
"On the 18th, I hit a wayward drive which hit a tree and came back on the fairway. It was a lucky break and I capitalized on that. The birdie on the 18th kind of gave me a boost and after that I pulled off a lot of good shots," said Abhijit, who had missed a few events on the Asian Tour in the first half of the year due to a shoulder injury. The Indian trio of Chikkarangappa, Ankur Chadha and Abhinav Lohan were placed tied 11th with identical scores of seven-under-137.
Among the prominent Indian names, Khalin Joshi was tied 24th at five-under-139, Viraj Madappa was tied 35th at four-under-140 and Jyoti Randhawa was tied 63rd at one-under-143. The cut was declared at one-under-143. Seventy-five players made the cut including 37 Indians. One of the two Indian amateurs to make the cut was Harshjeet Singh Sethie.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (74) missed the cut by one shot.
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