India’s Rashid Khan shot a flawless seven-under 65 to open up a four-shot lead after round two of the USD 1 million Mercuries Taiwan Masters on Friday.
Rashid, who shot 67 in the first round, is now 12-under for 36 holes and leads by four over Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang (68) and Wang Wei-hsiang (70), the defending champion and first-round leader, and Nitithorn Thippong from Thailand (69), who are all in second position at 8-under.
It was a good day for the Indian golfers as Honey Baisoya (69-71) was T-11 and four others, Shiv Kapur (68-73), Ajeetesh Sandhu (73-68) and Rahil Gangjee (70-71) and Veer Ahlawat (69-72) were T-17 at 3-under.
One shot behind them were SSP Chawrasia (71-71) and Khalin Joshi (73-69) at T-23.
S Chikkarangappa (70-74) and Udayan Mane (70-74) were T-31, while Viraj Madappa (73-72) and Aman Raj (73-72) were T-41. M Dharma 71-75) was T-51 as 13 of the 14 Indians in the field made the cut.
Karandeep Kochhar, who dropped four shots in last five holes, missed the cut by four.
Rashid, whose two victories on the Asian Tour came back in 2014, has been consistent this year. He has four Top-10s, including a runner-up finish at Mandiri Indonesia Open and T-8 last week in Chinese Taipei at Yeangder TPC.
Starting from the tenth, he had three birdies on the back nine between 14th and 17th and coming to the front nine, he had four birdies in a span of five holes between third and seventh.
Despite finding only half the fairways with seven of the 14, he drilled his approaches superbly and found 16 of the 18 greens. He had 28 putts, the same at the first day. Interestingly, in the first round, too, he had only eight fairways out of 14 but 14 greens in 18.
“It was pretty good, it was stress free,” said the 31-year-old Rashid, who began his round on 10.
“I really enjoyed it. I was hitting the ball well and even rolling the putts really well. So just keeping myself on the green, give yourself a lot of chances and that’s what I did.
“I only missed like two greens, I’ll say, the 10th where I started, and the last hole, but a really good par on the last.” On that final hole, the ninth, he just missed out of bounds with his tee shot, chipped out leaving himself an approach from 140 yards from where he hit his third to 25 feet and courageously holed the putt to complete a brilliant round.
“I played well here last time also, I finished fifth (in 2019). I know that a lot of things are required at this golf course, especially if you miss the green, the ups and downs are not easy,” he said.
“So, I’m just going to hit the greens and you know, give myself chances.” His round was two shots short of the course record set by Chinese-Taipei’s Lin Wen-hong in 2008.
A trio of Thai golfers, Danthai Boonma (66), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (69) and Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (71) are two shots further back at T-5.