Title race wide open

Three share top spot

JOINT LEADER: Nalini Singh Siwach tees off in the second round of the Women’s  Professional Golf Championship at the Clover Greens Golf Course on Wednesday. DH PHOTO

On a glorious day for golf with the sun hardly making an appearance, Neha’s game got swept away by the gusty winds as the overnight leader stumbled to an erratic three-over 73 to slip down to tied fourth (139) at the picturesque Clover Greens Golf Course.

Second-leg winner Smriti Mehra, who opened her account here with a scratchy one-over 71, bounced back in splendid style, shooting a superb three-under 67 to soar to the top spot along with fellow Delhiite Nalini Singh Siwach (70) and talented 13-year-old amateur Aditi Ashok at 138.

The biggest mover of the day was, however, two-time Order of Merit champion Sharmila Nicollet.

The Karnataka Golf Association lass, who seemed to have bowed out of the title race with a disastrous opening-round 76, reignited her hopes with a stunning five-under 65 to rise to fifth (141) and set up a cracking final day that has five pros within three shots of the lead.

“After such a horrendous display yesterday, I had no pressure today,” said a delighted Sharmila. “I just out went there all guns blazing and it worked for me. I am glad I am back in the title race and the plan tomorrow will be to attack.”

Sharmila, who last season began with two runaway wins before posting three more but is still searching for her maiden crown this year, sunk an astounding seven birdies against two bogeys.

Playing at her best, the 20-year-old could have signed off at six-under but shockingly missed a simple three-footer for par on the 18th.

Another Bangalore girl who impressed was Aditi, who seems to thrive under pressure. After a rather poor opening where she bogeyed the second and the tenth, the teenager stormed back with back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th before draining an eight-footer birdie on the 17th.

Leading scores (after 36 holes, ‘A’ denotes amateur): 138: Nalini Singh Siwach (68, 70), Aditi Ashok (A) (69, 69), Smriti Mehra (71, 67); 139: Neha Tripathi (66, 73); 141: Sharmila Nicollet (76, 65); 149: Rani Sonti (76, 73), Saaniya Sharma (78, 71); 152: Preetinder Kaur (80, 72); 154: Meghna Bal (80, 74); 157: Pallavi Jain (82, 75).

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