Amardip manages to stay ahead

Lahiri moves on to second place with four-under 68

 Anirban Lahiri in action on the second day of the BILT Open on Thursday. DH Photo / Srikanta Sharma R

On a day when India’s youngest Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar nearly equalled Amardip’s course record of eight-under 64 set just 24 hours earlier with a scintillating 65, the Meerut golfer struggled to cash in on his brilliant ball-striking ability to card an erratic one-under 71 at the Karnataka Golf Association.

At nine-under 135, the 25-year-old holds a one-stroke lead over defending champion Anirban Lahiri, who oozed confidence and class to replicate his first-round score of 68.
Manav Jaini (69) positioned himself nicely for a shot at the title to lie third at 138 while Bhullar stormed ahead to share the fourth spot with Vijay Kumar (70), Digvijay Singh (70) and Shaurya Singh at 140.

It was obvious that Amardip shares a special relationship with the KGA. Almost everything he hit from the tee landed on the centre fairway -- he was off direction just once, on the 11th -- and found the green without any hitch too. But the secret to shooting low at this lightning-quick course is putting and that is where Amardip was found wanting, especially on a disastrous back nine.

Another onslaught from Amardip looked imminent earlier on when he fired a hat-trick of birdies, starting from the sixth hole. However, on the ninth, where he eagled from 140 yards on Wednesday, Amardip dropped a stroke and and that was when his putter went cold.

He three-putted from the green to bogey the 10th and the 16th, sandwiching a birdie on the 11th. “Although I shot much lower yesterday, I think I played better today,” said Amardip. “I struck the ball brilliantly but my putting let me down miserably.”
Local lad Lahiri appeared to be enjoying himself out in the middle. Sparing time for a bit a fun and jokes with his playing partners, the 23-year-old looked in no mood to let go of his title after firing five birdies and growing better by the day.

Bhullar, the biggest mover of the day, smashed eight birdies including a miraculous effort on the 12th. After getting stuck behind the trees off the fairway, the Kapurthala pro chipped it between two trees before making a 20-foot putt.

The big disappointment was home-grown hero C Muniyappa, who missed the cut after totalling seven-over 151. The cut was applied at six-over 150.

Leading scores (after 36 holes): 135: Amardip Sinh Malik (64, 71); 136: Anirban Lahiri (68, 68); 138: Manav Jaini (69, 69); 140: Vijay Kumar (70, 70), Digvijay Singh (70, 70), Shaurya Singh (69, 71), Gaganjeet Bhullar (75, 65); 141: Chiragh Kumar (70, 71); Randhir Singh Ghotra (69, 72); Md Zamal Hossain Mollah (73, 68), Shamim Khan (67, 74); 142: Harmeet Kahlon (72, 70); Ajeetesh Sandhu (69, 73); Gaurav Pratap Singh (69, 73).

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