Seven Indians make cut in Maybank Malaysian Championships

Shubhankar Sharma emerged as the top Indian contender for the Maybank Malaysian Championships as he carded a second successive four-under 68 to move to a creditable eight-under 136 and tied-fifth at the halfway stage.

ShubhankarSharma

Shubhankar Sharma of India in action at the Maybank Championship Malaysia.   -  Getty Images

Shubhankar Sharma emerged as the top Indian contender for the Maybank Malaysian Championships as he carded a second successive four-under 68 to move to a creditable eight-under 136 and tied-fifth at the halfway stage of the USD three million event. Besides Sharma, making it a good week for the Indians were Shiv Kapur, who shot 67 to join Anirban Lahiri (68) in seventh place and Gaganjeet Bhullar (72) was tied-14 despite his putter did not working well.

Also making the cut were Rashid Khan (72-68) in tied-29, Jyoti Randhawa (73-69) and Chiragh Kumar (70-72) in tied-51st at the event, co-sanctioned by Asian and European Tours. Sharma was four behind Bernd Wiesberger (63), whose incredible nine successive birdies from seventh to 15th saw him reach 12-under, one ahead of Masters champion Danny Willett (67).

Mike Lorenzo Vera (65) and David Lipsky (67) were nine-under, while Sharma and K. T. Kim (68) were eight-under. Seven out of 13 Indians made the cut. Those missing out were Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, S. S. P. Chawrasia, Mukesh Kumar, S Chikkarangappa and Rahil Gangjee.

India’s big performer on the day was Sharma, who is having a fine run with tied-11th in Singapore, tied-9th in Myanmar and tied-4th in Dhaka in last three weeks. He continued with his fine show with a second straight 68. “I am close to the leaders and I am pretty comfortable now. It’s not easy but I’m getting used to playing in final groups. The key is to stay relaxed and play like you’re playing in a normal practice round,” said Sharma.

“I think it’s all part of my experience as a player. I’ve played (before) in the leader groups in my career - last week (Dhaka) and twice at the Panasonic Open India,” added Sharma, who has four wins on his domestic PGTI Tour but none on Asian Tour. “I got the start I wanted and made four birdies on the back nine (his opening nine) and kept it going on the front. Had a few chances for birdies but couldn’t convert on second nine. I only missed three greens on the front nine and made good up and downs.”

Kapur’s 67 was the best among Indians. Pleased with his round, he said, “Anytime you finish well, you take a lot of positives into the weekend. I felt like I’m playing well but not really having the results in the past couple of weeks. It’s nice to actually put myself in position for once. I holed a few more putts and am being a bit more patient.”

Lahiri again had a lot of birdies - his 13 in 36 holes is next only to 16 by leader Wiesberger, who had 11 in second round. “I would have liked to be in a slightly better position given the number of birdies I’ve made but all in all I’m in a good position to make a run,” Lahiri said. Wiesberger, twice runner-up in 2014 and 2015 (he lost to Lahiri) equalled his career best 63 for a third time - he also shot 63 in 2015. He is now hoping to win the event for the first time.

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