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Veer Ahlawat takes halfway lead, Bhullar cards 66 in DGC Open


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Delhi’s Ahlawat sinks five birdies as he takes two-shot lead; Gaganjeet Bhullar shoots 66 with eight birdies to rise to tied fourth on the testing Lodhi course in the Asian Tour event.
 

 

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Veer Ahlawat(DGC Open)

 

Five birdies in a bogey-free Round 2 saw local golfer Veer Ahlawat take solo lead in the halfway stage of the DGC Open at the demanding Lodhi Course here on Friday. Starting tied-fourth at four-under 68, he sank four consecutive birdies from holes 12 to 15, and another on the 17th. A card of 67 to go nine-under for the tournament gave him a two-shot lead over Ajeetesh Sandhu, who shot 68 to be second.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, the highest-ranked Indian on the Asian Tour Order of Merit (13th), shot a brilliant six-under 66 to rise to joint fourth at five-under par overall. Bhullar shook off a first round 73 with a birdie blitz, eight in all and five on the bounce from the 13th hole. Bogeys on the third and 11th holes left him in a three-way tie.

Overnight joint-leaders Shankar Das and Australia's Travis Smyth made the cut but slid down the leaderboard. Das was tied 12th after a two-over 74 to be three-under while Smyth’s one-over 73 left him tied seventh.

Ahlawat, 26, who finished 11th in the TATA Steel PGTI MP Cup at the venue in October, used the experience of having played at the relaid course to produce an error-free round. “I am happy with my game plan. My tee shots came off pretty well. I am not looking too far ahead though,” he said.

As the afternoon sun beat down, the greens became harder, making it tougher to control the speed of the putts. Ahlawat stuck to the rule at this venue of narrow fairways with unforgiving bushes by keeping the driver away.

“The greens were a little firmer,” he said. “If you leave yourself on the wrong side of the greens, it is tough to chip or putt. You better get the distance and the flight right. The grass is pretty good, and the ball was rolling at a pretty good pace.

“The plan was to keep the ball in play even if you are 15 yards short off the tee. That’s how you can stay close to the tucked-in flags. There was wind too.”

Sandhu, who teed off in the afternoon when the wind picked up, wasn’t averse to pulling out his driver on four occasions.

“I've been doing it almost every time I play here,” he said. “I found it a little easier than yesterday. The greens are excellent. If you miss a putt, you can't really complain about the surface, it's your fault. The course is playing fantastic.”

Bhullar, 33, a nine-time winner on the Asian Tour, was happy with his round.

“I was in a good frame of mind from yesterday's finish. I played well on Thursday too, but didn't score too well. Today, the numbers came,” said Bhullar, who recorded his first six-under round as a pro at the Delhi Golf Club course.

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