PGTI Masters: Jha takes one-stroke lead on Day 2

Abhishek Jha sank seven birdies, including one on the 13th, where he landed it within a foot of the flag from 95 yards.

Abhishek Jha has played seven events on the PGTI Tour this year without finishing in the top 20.   -  Shreedutta V. Chidananda

Abhishek Jha shot an assured six-under-66 to take a one-stroke lead on the second day of the PGTI Eagleburg Masters here. Jha has played seven events on the PGTI Tour this year without finishing in the top 20 even once (he has, it must be noted, not missed the cut either).

On Wednesday, the 29-year-old took a big step towards reversing that trend, signing for a two-round total of nine-under-135 that put him on top of the leaderboard on his home course. Immediately behind him were S. Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi (both 136), with the trio of Abhinav Lohan, Udayan Mane, and Shamim Khan (137) tied for fourth.

Jha sank seven birdies, including one on the 13th, where he landed it within a foot of the flag from 95 yards. "I hit it well today. But after a long time, I putted like my old self again," he said later. "I felt confident on the putter; it had been so long since I felt that way."

Chikkarangappa, who returned a card of three-under-69, was unhappy with his performance on the greens for a second straight day. "I'm just not able to read the lines or get the speed right," he said. "Every green is playing differently. The greens are just so different from what I'm used to here." Joshi, who is suffering from a nasty cold, was similarly displeased with his putting.

"The course is not that easy," Chikkarangappa said. "A lot of people are struggling on the greens. It's rare to see the leader single digits under par after two rounds here. I also don't remember the last the time the cut went over par here. That tells you how hard it is."

The cut was applied at two-over-146 (50 and ties), which put Shubhankar Sharma, the current leader of the Order of Merit, out by one shot. Meanwhile, the overnight top two - M. Dharma and Shankar Das - fell to tied seventh after rounds of 73 and 72 respectively.



Scores (top 10 after two rounds): 135: Abhishek Jha (69, 66); 136: Khalin Joshi, S. Chikkarangappa (67, 69); 137: Abhinav Lohan (72, 65), Udayan Mane (68, 69), Shamim Khan (72, 65); 138: Shankar Das (66, 72), M. Dharma (65, 73); 139: Honey Baisoya (67, 72), Vikrant Chopra (69, 70).