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Rahil Gangjee and Om Prakash on top at the end of day two

BALBIR SINGH | December 09, 2023 08:21 AM

KOLKATA: TATA Steel PGTI Ranking leader Om Prakash Chouhan and Rahil Gangjee, who is playing on his home turf, finished as joint clubhouse leaders at a total of five-under 139 at the end of day two of the INR 1 crore SSP Chawrasia Invitational 2023 presented by TAKE Sports being played at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).

While Om Prakash posted a 69, Rahil signed for a 70 as players enjoyed the balmy weather in overcast conditions even as the rain stayed away and there were no interruptions during play.

Earlier in the day, round one, which was interrupted by rain twice on Thursday, resumed at 6:45 am local time. The first round ended with Gangjee being the leader at 69 while Chouhan was second at 70.

Round two got underway at 8:35 am. Out of a total of 122 players, 59 players could complete round two on Friday as play was suspended due to fading light at 4:55 pm. Round two will now resume at 6:30 am on Saturday.

Om Prakash Chouhan (70-69) was off to a flying start in round two with 10 to 15 feet conversions for birdie and eagle on the 13th and 15th respectively. Chouhan, who hails from Mhow in Madhya Pradesh, missed a short putt to bogey the 18th but soon recovered from that with a birdie on the third. This trend continued as he dropped two more shots on the fourth and sixth but immediately made up for the damage with birdies on the fifth, a 20-feet conversion, and on the ninth where he chipped-in.

OP, as Om Prakash is popularly known, said, “Yesterday it was quite wet and windy so one had to play conservatively. Today it’s been clear so overall the conditions were easier and especially when you’re hitting it out of the rough.

“My chipping has been one of the highlights of my game recently and that continued even today. I’m chipping with a lot of confidence and therefore I’ve made so many chip-ins of late. Importantly, I came back well every time I dropped a bogey today. With the rain staying away, the weather’s just perfect for golf now.”

Rahil Gangjee (69-70), originally from Kolkata but now settled in Bengaluru, was on song on the back-nine in round two as he collected four birdies between the 13th and 17th, two being a result of long conversions. Then hampered by some discomfort in his right calf muscle, Gangjee had a contrasting front-nine where he dropped two bogeys.

Rahil said, “I was feeling good on the back-nine with that run of birdies but a niggling pain in my right calf just got worse as I walked and it got pretty bad after I completed nine holes. Therefore, I was quite distracted and not flowing properly from there on and as a result I did not have a good front-nine.

“After the rain yesterday, calculating the correct yardage got very tricky since the air is heavier. It’s quite comforting to come back to Kolkata, my original home. I’ve not been playing my best for a long time, so this trip to Kolkata will hopefully do my confidence some good. I hope it revives the good memories.”

Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed (74-67) was third in the clubhouse at a total of three-under 141.

Rashid Khan’s tally after 36 holes read one-over 145.

Among those out on the course with unfinished second rounds, Divyanshu Bajaj and Abhinav Lohan were at a total of one-under through 12 holes while defending champion Manu Gandas was at a total of even-par through nine holes.

Tournament host SSP Chawrasia was at a total of five-over through nine holes.

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