Seldom has a golfer carded such stupendous back-to-back scores at the Delhi Golf Club course like the way Rashid Khan pulled off at the halfway stage of the Rs. 10 million BILT Open golf championship on Thursday.
Following his creditable seven-under 65 that fetched him the second spot on Wednesday behind overnight leader Shamim Khan, Rashid brought in a 66 to head the leaderboard with a stunning 13-under 131.
Much before a cautious Shamim found pars on all 18 holes, Rashid had almost ensured the clubhouse lead. Once Shamim signed out with a 72 for a two-round tally of 136, Rashid’s lead stood at five strokes.
Four players, including a resurgent Ashok Kumar who fired a 67, shared the third spot at 139.
The ‘cut’ came at four-over 148 leaving 50 professionals and one amateur in the fray.
The day clearly belonged to Rashid who fired seven birdies against a lone bogey. He missed a birdie-opportunity on the opening hole but birdied the next two from three feet. A 20-footer birdie-putt on the fifth was his longest of the day. Throughout the day, Rashid’s putting skills stood out.
Though Rashid pulled his tee-shot and the approach shot to bogey the ninth hole, he more than made up on the back-nine.
Rashid kept his focus to birdie the 11th hole from eight feet and then nailed another one from 15 feet on the 13th.
A tricky up-and-down birdie putt on the 14th reflected Rashid’s comfort level on the par-5 holes. He reinforced this belief by signing off with a clinical birdie on the 18th hole.
“This is the first time when I’ve been under-par after two rounds as a professional on this course,” said Rashid who for once managed to build on a good start on his home course.
On a day when only six players managed successive sub-par rounds, Jyoti Randhawa shot par and defending champion Chiragh Kumar followed his first round 74 with a 73 to survive the ‘cut’.
The scores: Rashid Khan (65, 66) 131; Shamim Khan (64, 72) 136; Shankar Das (69, 70), Ashok Kumar (72, 67), Gulfam (68, 71), Abhinav Lohan (69, 70) 139; Manav Jaini (69, 71) 140; Jyoti Randhawa (69, 72), Arshpreet Thind (68, 73), Ranjit Singh Rathore (69, 72), Mohammad Islam (67, 74) 141; Mithun Perera (Sri) (71, 71), Om Prakash Chouhan (72, 70), Rajesh Kumar Rawat (69, 73) 142; Harendra Gupta (73, 70), Rudresh Sharma (72, 71), Digvijay Singh (73, 70) and Harmeet Kahlon (74, 69) 143.