Rookie Khalin Joshi maintains lead at SAIL-SBI open

Last Updated: Thu, Mar 07, 2013 14:00 hrs

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Indian rookie Khalin Joshi and Rashid Khan held the spotlight on day two of the SAIL-SBI Open golf here Thursday.

Joshi followed up his first 66 with a steady three-under-par 69 to take the lead at the end of the second round. As the sun set down on the Delhi Golf Club, Joshi was joined in the lead by American-Korean Chan Kim (67-68), who finished with a flourish, with four birdies in a row over the last four holes.

Joshi and Kim were one shot ahead of Rashid (72-64) and Bangladeshi Siddikur (68-68), while there was a big bunch at six-under and five-under. Siddikur, second at SAIL-SBI Open in 2011, was second again at Panasonic Open in 2012, is looking at the top spot.

Big-hitting Rahil Gangjee, whose sole win on Asian tour came in 2004, the year Asian Tour was established, landed two brilliant eagles - one with a putt from 30 feet and another from 45 feet - enroute to a 66 that brought him to a total of seven-under and fifth place.

The 20-year-old Joshi, making his professional debut on the Asian Tour, chipped in for an eagle on 14 to go with two birdies and one bogey.

Joshi, India's number one ranked amateur last year, has not shown any fear to lead a strong field. He turned in 36 with a birdie on the first being offset by a bogey on eight before producing the shot of the round with an exquisite chip-in eagle on 14. He rolled in a six-footer at the last and celebrated with a clenched fist.

"I hit the ball good although my putting wasn't great. I holed a chip on the 14th for eagle so that was good. Honestly, I felt normal. I didn't feel any pressure. I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could. Conditions were a bit easier, not much wind compared to yesterday but the flags were a bit tougher," said Joshi.

A strong finish this week, or even a win, could make up for his disappointment of not earning his Asian Tour card through Qualifying School in Thailand in January.

Rashid, No. 2 on the Indian PGTI in 2012, atoned for his modest even par 72 of first day with his best-ever round at his home course in the second round. At eighth-under through 36 holes, he is one behind Kim and Joshi, with whom he has played a lot of amateur golf.

Rashid zoomed up the leaderboard with nine birdies, three of them in a row on his last three holes. He had just one bogey on the 13th, his fourth hole of the day after starting at the tenth.

The strength of Indian golf is on full display this week with title holder Anirban Lahiri getting into the title mix with a solid 68 which left him four shots back with two rounds to go.

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