Shiv Kapur hit a purple patch on the back nine with four birdies in a span of five holes, as he carded a four-under 66 and moved to tied third at the midway stage of the $1.3 million Hong Kong Open here on Friday.
Kapur is now five-under 135 and two shots behind leader Jbe Kruger of South Africa. Kapur may well have been just one behind Kruger, but for a bogey on 18th.
Six of the nine Indians made the cut, but surprisingly among those missing were Jeev Milkha Singh (71-71), Gaganjeet Bhullar (74-77) and C Muniyappa (77-75).
At tied 14th and three-under 137 was SSP Chowrasia (68-69) as the next best Indian after Kapur, while Anirban Lahiri (68-70) was tied 27th. Sujjan Singh (66-73), Himmat Rai (72-67) and Jyoti Randhawa (72-67) were tied 41st at one-under 139. As many as 75 players made the cut
Kapur, who is currently in eighth place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, needs a good result to break into Team Asia for the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia next year. Kapur has already secured his European Tour card for 2014 with two wins on Challenge Tour.
Kapur’s last win on the Asian Tour came in Thailand in 2005 but the 31-year-old is confident of making his return to the winner’s circle this week.
“It’s a bunched up leaderboard and it’s going to be anybody’s game come the weekend so I know I’ve to keep doing what I’m doing. If I can play the way I have and shoot 66 or better on the weekend, then I’ll be in pretty good position,” he said.
Kapur feels he has matured a lot since 2004, when he turned professional.
“I like to think I am (more mature), but obviously, you know, you’re only as good as the results you post. So it just depends on how I go and how I play, and you’re only judged by the scores you shoot,” said Kapur.
At the top, Kruger made it a fitting tribute to the passing of Nelson Mandela by storming ahead to take the second round lead with a four-under-par 66.
As the only South African in the strong field where over 30 Asian Tour champions have gathered at the Hong Kong Golf Club, Kruger broke clear of the chasing pack during an extraordinary homerun where he made six birdies in seven holes to sign for a two-day total of seven-under-par 133.
Wales’ Stuart Manley carded another matching 67 to take second place on 134 while Kapur and Australia’s Wade Ormsby are tied for third alongside Germany’s Alex Cejka.
There was little sign to show for what is to come for Kruger when he reached the turn in 36 following three bogeys and one birdie.
After making a par on the par-four 10th, the 27-year-old then stormed ahead by making six birdies on holes 11,12,13,14,16 and 17.
Kruger expressed his sadness at the death of Mandela, a revered icon long regarded as the father of his nation.
“Our country lost a real-life hero,” said Kruger of Mandela, who led the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and was one of the towering political figures of the 20th century.
Kruger has won just once on Asian Tour in India in 2012 in a co-sanctioned event.
“I played well, I probably swung it the best I’ve swung it in a long time. I’m excited and I’m playing better for a change,” said Kruger.
Playing on a sponsor’s invite, Cejka made the most of his invitation by charging ahead to grab the clubhouse lead with his 67 in the morning.