Rashid Khan , Shubhankar keep Indian hopes alive as American Julian Suri leads in Hero Indian Open Golf

 Harpal Singh Bedi

Shubhankar Sharma

Gurugram:  Young Delhi Golfer Rashid Khan and Chandigarh based  Shubhankar Sharma  carded contrasting second rounds to keep Indian hopes alive as they trailed the leader  Julian Suri of the United States by eight shots at the halfway stage of the   the US$1.75 million Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Friday..

Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid shot two-under-70 while  two-time European Tour winner Shubhankar, returned one over 73 and were the best-placed Indians  as  both  were  tied 19th with a tally of two-under-142. .

 The cut was declared at two-over-146. Seventy professionals made the cut. Out of a total of 37 Indians in fray  only eight made the cut   

Julian Suri

Julian Suri stretched his overnight lead to three after carding a second consecutive five-under-par 67. The 27-year-old American, who shared a one-shot lead at the end of the first round , fired  an eagle and five birdies against two bogeys for a 10-under-par 134

Suri, who last won on the European Tour two years ago, credited his hot putter for yet another commendable round in the event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

“I hit it really well the whole day and I just tried to free it up a little bit on the second nine with my putting. I putted with more feel instead, which is how I have usually been putting, and I gave myself a lot more chances,” said the American, who is of Indian descent.

Thailand’s Prom Meesawat, American Berry Henson  and India’s Rashid Khan  settled eight shots off the pace following rounds of 74, 72 and 70 respectively.

Henson, a one-time Asian Tour winner, was glad his conservative approach paid off as he made it into the weekend rounds after trading three birdies against three bogeys.

“I’ve only hit one driver over the past two rounds. I hope to take a bit more of a risk over the weekend and try and get in better positions to score. Today I just hit my three-wood off the tee just to keep my ball in play. That was my game plan, to keep my ball in play and stay away from the big numbers,” said Henson.

 After his round  Rashid said, “I had a good start and finish today. I placed the ball well and rolled in the putts. Shooting an under-par round on this course is always an encouraging sign so I’m quite satisfied with today’s effort.

   “This course requires a lot of patience as you have to play away from some of the flags. I managed to do that well today.

    “I had a good preparation for this event as I was invited to practice for a few days at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens Course in Ahmedabad last week. Playing at Kalhaar gave me a feel of the DLF Golf & Country Club as both courses are similar in many ways.

 On the other hand Shubhankar  said he was not too happy with the day. “ A one-over is not what I had expected today. I didn’t feel like I played bad but missing crucial putts on the front-nine made a lot of difference. I was just struggling to make pars on the front-nine.”

“I was in a position to birdie the fourth and eighth but ended up dropping bogeys there which in effect meant that I lost four shots on those two holes. Those two bogeys were definitely big setbacks.

“If I had birdied the fifth and moved to one-under once again, things could’ve been very different. Landing it in the water on the eighth was also a big disappointment. The importance of scoring on the front-nine can be stressed by the fact that one doesn’t get too many birdie opportunities on the back-nine here.

“I made pars on the last two holes but was not satisfied with a couple of shots there as well. I could’ve been in better positions on both holes.

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