Saqib fires 61 to take three-shot lead in Jaipur Open

Saqib, a former winner on the PGTI, equalled Vikrant Chopra’s record for the lowest score after two rounds at a PGTI event.

Syed Saqib Ahmed plays a shot. (File Photo)   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed fired a blistering nine-under-61 in round two to take a three-shot lead at the TATA Steel Jaipur Open on Wednesday.

Saqib ended the day with a total of 15-under-125 at the Rambagh Golf Club.

Saqib, a former winner on the PGTI, thus equalled Vikrant Chopra’s record for the lowest score after two rounds at a PGTI event.

Noida-based Vikrant had also achieved the feat at the Rambagh Golf Club during the inaugural Jaipur Open in 2017.

Round one leader Abhinav Lohan of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurugram, who had previously shot a 61 on Tuesday, came up with a 67 on day two to drop to second place at 12-under-128.

The halfway cut went at two-under-138 on a day that saw a light drizzle accompanied with wind in the afternoon session. Fifty-three professionals made the cut.

Saqib (64-61), who was tied seventh and three off the lead after round one, began the day making rapid strides up the leaderboard, thanks to his fabulous ball-striking on the back-nine that saw him tap-in for four of his six birdies before the turn.

Saqib then had a contrasting front-nine where he rolled in three birdie putts from a range of 10 to 15 feet and almost had a chip-in for eagle on the eighth.

Saqib’s 11 birdies and two bogeys on Wednesday raised his hopes of a second title.

“My back-nine and front-nine were in sharp contrast to each other even though I played equally well in both halves,” he said.

“While I began the day with some good hitting, I followed it up with consistent putting later on. The last four holes were a little tough as it started drizzling and got windy but I adapted to the conditions well on that stretch.”

Lohan kept his hopes of a maiden title alive with a steady 67 that consisted of five birdies and two bogeys.

Lohan was one-over through 12 holes before he turned it around with three long birdie conversions on the 13th, 15th and 16th. He closed the day with a birdie on the last to stay in the hunt.

Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, the Feeder Tour Order of Merit leader, produced a sizzling 62 to be joint third along with Faridabad’s Karan Pratap Singh (65) and Bengaluru’s M Dharma (67) at 11-under-129. Yuvraj ended the day with a flourish as he birdied the last four holes.

Defending champion Aman Raj of Patna was placed tied 19th at six-under-134 while PGTI Order of Merit leader Rashid Khan occupied tied 40th place at three-under-137.

Indian star Jyoti Randhawa withdrew from the tournament due to a neck injury.

All the Jaipur-based golfers in the field failed to make the cut.