Rashid Khan struggled for the better part of the second round and even had a double-bogey on the par-3 17th, but made amends on the back-nine to enjoy a four-stroke cushion at the halfway stage of the $300,000 SAIL-SBI Open golf championship at the Delhi Golf Club course here on Thursday.

Following his first-round 11-under 61, Rashid managed a 68 that was good enough to help him stay ahead of the trio of Bangladesh’s Mohammad Siddikur, Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera and Korea’s Unho Park.

The day’s best

Though Switzerland’s Martin Rominger carded the day’s best of 63 to jump to the fifth spot, the focus remained on home favourite Rashid.

After starting the day from the 10th hole, Rashid struggled to hit the ball well.

He did putt well and found a birdie from about 20 feet on the 16th. However, that was followed by a shocking double-bogey.

“That was terrible,” was how Rashid described it. “I made a wrong club selection and hit the ball over the green.”

But, it was indeed creditable that Rashid, one-over at the turn, could start the inward nine with confidence.

He straightaway found an ‘eagle’ on the first hole from about 25 feet to begin his comeback.

Though Rashid was not hitting the ball close to the pin — just three of his drives landed within 10 feet of the hole — his putting clearly saved the day. The birdie on the seventh hole, from 25 feet, was another fine effort.

“I was not comfortable with my swing. Even at the range, I wanted to hit a few more balls, but I didn’t have the time,” said Rashid. Looking ahead, he said,

“I just need to make sure I find more greens and hole more putts over the next two days. I’m putting really well. On Saturday morning, I’ll work on my swing and spend half-an-hour more at the range with my coach.”

He pointed out to the afternoon winds that made his task more difficult.

Swirling wind

“The winds were swirling out there. It was affecting us. Normally, it doesn’t happen at the DGC. Every single hole, we were playing a different wind. It was a little tough. I wasn’t playing aggressively, just focusing on finding the fairways and greens.”

After bad light forced suspension of play, the second round will be completed early on Friday morning.

The scores: Rashid Khan (61, 69) 130; Mohd. Siddikur (Ban) (67, 67), Unho Park (Kor) (69, 65), Mithun Perera (Sri) (66, 68) 134; Martin Rominger (Sui) (72, 63) 135; Anirban Lahiri (70, 66), Digvijay Singh (68, 68) 136; S.S.P. Chowrasia (68, 69), Scott Barr (Aus) (67, 70) and Akinori Tani (Jpn) (66, 71) 137.

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