Veer Ahlawat Moves Within Striking Distance at Hero Indian Open

Veer Ahlawat Moves Within Striking Distance at Hero Indian Open

Veer Ahlawat, renowned for his prodigious hitting prowess, surged within striking distance of the lead on the second day of the prestigious Hero Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram. The tournament witnessed a remarkable course record of 10-under 62 by Norway’s Espen Kofstad, eclipsing the previous best of 64 set by Shubhankar Sharma in 2018 and Arjun Puri in 2022.

Ahlawat, starting from the 10th hole, displayed consistent play with pars on the first seven holes. He then unleashed a flurry of three consecutive birdies before a momentary lapse on the second hole. However, he responded with an impressive ‘eagle’ on the fourth hole, leaving him just 10 feet from the pin. Two more birdies followed, improving his score from a first-day 69 to a commendable 66.

Meanwhile, Japanese golfer Keita Nakajima maintained his overnight lead with a successive seven-under 65, giving him a two-round tally of 130. He held a two-shot advantage over Frenchman Romain Langasque and a three-stroke lead over Italian Matteo Manassero.

Nakajima’s exceptional putting earned him five birdies in a row on the front nine, propelling him to a commanding position. He added two more birdies after the turn, moving to -14 with seven holes remaining. However, a series of three bogeys on the 15th, 16th, and 17th holes threatened to derail his momentum.

Undeterred, Nakajima produced a stunning drive and a well-calculated shot from the fairway on the testing 17th hole, securing a birdie to restore his confidence. On the final hole, he drained an ‘eagle-putt’ from about 20 feet to finish at an impressive -14.

Other notable Indian performances included Karandeep Kochhar (138), Manu Gandas (138), Gaganjeet Bhullar (139), Rashid Khan (139), and Jairaj Singh Sandhu (142).

Indian Hopes Dim as Foreigners Dominate Hero Indian Open Opening Day

Indian Hopes Dim as Foreigners Dominate Hero Indian Open Opening Day

The Hero Indian Open, often referred to as the National Open, has witnessed a dearth of Indian winners in recent years. The last local triumph came in 2017, and the opening day of the 2023 edition suggests that the drought may continue.

On a day of low scoring, Dutchman Joost Luiten, Japan’s Keita Nakajima, and Italy’s Matteo Manassero emerged as the frontrunners, all carding seven-under rounds. Luiten and Nakajima displayed aggressive play, while Manassero navigated the course bogey-free.

India’s hopes were pinned on OP Chouhan, Aman Raj, and Karandeep Kochhar, who finished tied 14th with four-under rounds. Chouhan, who earned his European card by topping the 2023 PGTI money list, attributed his success to a new set of irons.

Chouhan’s round was highlighted by birdies on the par 5 fourth, par 3 fifth, and par 5 eighth holes. However, bogeys on the 14th and 18th holes prevented him from finishing in the top 10.

Raj, 28, also had a solid round, making three birdies and a bogey on the front nine and two birdies on the back. Kochhar, 24, came into his own towards the end of the day, making three birdies and a bogey on each nine.

Disappointment struck Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri. Sharma finished tied 34th with a two-under round, while Lahiri, the 2015 winner, had a disastrous day with seven bogeys.

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