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Sport - Golf Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Four atop the leaderboard

By Rakesh Rao

— Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Pablo De Olma plays a shot out of the bunker.

NEW DELHI, MARCH 26. No wonder, Mexican golfer Pablo Del Olmo rates the Delhi Golf Club among his favourite courses.

A tied second place in the Hero Honda Masters last November and a first-round 67 in the last edition of the Indian Open show that he knows a thing or two about tackling this course. That apart, Pablo also loves the `wild life' on the course with peacocks, snakes and mongooses making their presence felt like nowhere else.

Feeling good about the surroundings, Pablo made it even better on Friday by firing a six-under 66 to be first among equals as three players joined overnight leader Keith Horne at the top of the leaderboard at the half-way stage of the Royal Challenge Indian Open golf tournament here on Friday.

Horne remained on nine-under after a par round, Mardan Mamat made it with a 67 while Thaworn Wiratchant, who began the day in the second spot, shot a 69 to be with Pablo at 135 for two rounds.

Indian hopes rested with Mukesh Kumar who shot a 71 to share the seventh spot with, among others, American Greg Hanrahan and Australian David Gleeson at 138. A shot away were Shamim Khan and Vijay Kumar, among those tied for the 12th spot.

Four out of Pablo's six birdies came on the home run and saw him follow his first-round 69 with an improved card. He "putted well after a long, long time,'' but it was his brilliant iron-play that saw set him up for those not-so-long putts.

Like Horne on the first day, Pablo succeeded in finding the right placements on the

tight fairways. Knowing that the greens are hard, he concentrated in making the ball land short and let it roll on to the pin.

"I guess, I read the greens well and judged the lines right. I did not miss any short

putts but had no real long putts either,'' said the 34-year-old who survived just one `cut' in four events on the Tour this year.

Horne could not produce the magic of the first day. Though he did go two-under for the day after birdies on the second and eighth holes, his efforts stood undone following bogies on the 11th and 12th holes. Horne raised visions of breaking par after a birdie on the 15th but a bogey on the 16th pulled him back to par.

Mamat's 67 included three birdies on either side of the turn and his lone bogey came on the seventh hole. Having shot a 68 on the opening day, Mamat's consistent play has kept him on course of his maiden title on the Tour.

Like Mamat, Wiratchant also dropped a shot on the seventh hole. The Thai started from the 10th tee and took temporary lead after taking the turn with a 32. But a 37 on his way back denied him the honour of ending up as the leader.

The `cut' came at two-over 46, leaving 68 professionals and a lone amateur, Harinder Gupta, in the fray. Prominent among those who missed the `cut' were Thailand's Boonchu Ruangkit (147), Indian Tour leader Ashok Kumar (151), S. S. P. Chowrasia (148), two-time champion Ali Sher (147) and Hong Kong's James Stewart (148).

Of the lot, Chowrasia's miss was most startling. He ended up with a 78 after a double-bogey on the 17th hole followed by a triple-bogey!

The scores (second round): Keith Horne (RSA) (63, 72), Pablo Del Olmo (Mex) (69, 66), Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) (66, 69) and Mardan Mamat (Sin) (68, 67) 135; Clay Devers (U.S.) (67, 69) 136; Gary Rusnak (U.S.) (68, 69) 137; David Gleeson (Aus) (69, 69), Greg Hanrahan (U.S.) (70, 68), Mukesh Kumar (67, 71), Stephen Lindskog (Swe) (69, 69) and Mo Joong-Kyung (Kor) (68, 70) 138; Ross Bain (Sco) (69, 70), Gerry Norquist (U.S.) (73, 66), Shamim Khan (67, 72), Adam Fraser (Aus) (74, 65) and Vijay Kumar (71, 68) 139; Mike Cunning (U.S.) (71, 69), Amritinder Singh (68, 72), Bryan Saltus (U.S.) (68, 72), Rafiq Ali (69, 71) and Lam Chih Bing (Sin) (71, 69) 140; Amandeep Johl (72, 69), Richard Moir (Aus) (74, 67), Harmeet Kahlon (72, 69), Rick Gibson (Can) (70, 71), Chris Williams (RSA) (70, 71) and Sanjay Kumar (71, 70) 141; Hendrik Buhrmann (RSA) (69, 73), Jason Dawes (Aus) (70, 72), Anthony Gilligan (Aus) (72, 70) and Firoz Ali (72, 70) 142; Arjun Singh (72, 71), Richard Backwell (Aus) (72, 71), Craig Kamps (RSA) (69, 74), Vinod Kumar (73. 70), Scott Strange (Aus) (72, 71), Adam Le Vesconte (Aus) (74, 69), Yusuf Ali (71, 72), Yeh Chang-Ting (Tpe) (68, 75) and Harinder Gupta (A) (73, 70) 143.

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