Rahil Gangjee Tied-2nd in Japan as 4 other Indians make cut

Gangjee, whose lone Asian Tour win came 14 years ago, is now 8-under, with rounds of 69 and 65, at par-71 Ibaraki Country Club.

Rahil Gangjee posted the day’s lowest score of 65. (File Photo)   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Rahil Gangjee played one of his best rounds, in a long time, to place himself Tied-second, behind Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino (68), at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship, on Friday.

Gangjee, whose lone Asian Tour win came 14 years ago, is now 8-under, with rounds of 69 and 65, at par-71 Ibaraki Country Club. Gangjee, two behind Hoshino, is tied with five others, including Japanese legend Shingo Katayama (64-70), at 8-under.

Ajeetesh Sandhu (69-69) is the next best Indian at T-15, while others making the halfway cut were Arjun Atwal (72-69), Shiv Kapur (70-71) and SSP Chawrasia (69-72). They were T-48th and right on the cutline, which fell at one-under 141.

READ: Murray tames wind to lead Texas Open as Garcia struggles

The Indians, who missed the cut, included Khalin Joshi (71-71), S Chikkarangappa (68-75), Jyoti Randhawa (75-69), Gaganjeet Bhullar (73-74), Rashid Khan (74-77) and Chiragh Kumar (77-74).

Gangjee, 39, posted the day’s lowest score of 65 and said, “Today was like a dream round, considering I haven’t been playing that well for the last year and a half! I made a lot of putts and hit some decent shots too. I had no expectations. When I played my first practice round with Arjun, there were no birdies in nine holes, so we were not expecting much from this golf course.”

“But, when I went out there and made eight birdies today, that was something. I’ve not been in this position for years and I guess I have to keep my tempo down, as I’ve been going hard at it recently,” he added.

ALSO READ: Quiros' birdie-birdie finish earns a share of Rabat lead

Gangjee, who has not featured in the weekend rounds, all year, sprung a surprise, even on himself, by marking his card with eight birdies at the event, sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

The 21-year-old Hoshino will enjoy a two-shot cushion, heading into the weekend rounds, with his two-day total of 10-under-par 132, but has to be wary of a host of players, bunched in tied-second place.

62 players progressed into the weekend rounds, with the cut set at one-under. Rikuya Hoshino is still searching for his first win on the JGTO. He has won once on the JGTO Challenge Tour, in 2017.