Randhawa leads morning charge at Johnnie Walker golf

February 29th, 2008 - 7:37 pm ICT by admin  

(Afternoon Lead)

Gurgaon, Feb 29 (IANS) Jyoti Randhawa charged up the leaderboard with a bogey-free 65 that put him in an ideal position to make a bid for his first European Tour title at the Johnnie Walker Classic. The 36-year-old Randhawa, who has seven Asian Tour title and one from Japan, found seven birdies, of which only one came on a par-five, to move to nine-under 135. At the end of the morning session, Randhawa was tied for second with little-known Japanese player, Taichiro Kiyota (67), and they were one behind Korean-born, Singapore-based Australian Unho Park (65).

The two other Indians making waves in the morning session were Jeev Milkha Singh (70) who had an up-and-down round and Rahil Gangjee (71) who at one stage was four-under through eight holes and right on top of the leaderboard. Jeev, three-under after seven and then even par after 14 holes, finished birdie-birdie to get to six-under 140.

Digvijay Singh added a second straight 70 to come to four-under 140.

Things, however, were not great for S.S.P. Chowrasia (73) who at one-over 145 was hanging by the skin of his teeth and is in danger of missing the cut. Ashok Kumar, who was 11th last week at SAIL Open, was sure to miss the weekend action, as he carded a 69, which just would not be enough to make up for his first day 77.

Indians sure to exit early are 2002 Indian Open winner Vijay Kumar (77) at eight-over for the two rounds; Harmeet Kahlon, the 2002 Hero Honda Masters champion, whose 82 in second round put him 11-over and Vivek Bhandari (77) at 11-over.

Playing on his home course, Randhawa, Asia’s number one in 2002, said a change in mindset helped him produce a seven-birdie round. “It’s a great round. I think after playing yesterday’s round, I’m really happy to be where I am today. I was not feeling all that great when I finished yesterday, and I think I decided what to do today and I stuck with it.

“I guess it’s just expectations. You’re playing in your country and people expect you to play well, you expect to play well and before you know it, you play and you start scoring and seeing the leaderboard. You could be two-under or three-over.

“That’s what I did today, I just tried to play the game. I just wanted to go out there and have fun and do the best that I could with my game. That helped. That was great,” said Randhawa.

Park found the spark in his game to seize the early halfway lead.

Park, an Asian Tour regular searching for his maiden victory, credited his superb run at the DLF Golf and Country Club to Vijay Singh, saying he watched the big Fijian at the practice range earlier in the week and picked up a valuable tip.

Singapore-based Park leads by one stroke from India’s Jyoti Randhawa, who charged into contention with a blistering 65 and Japan’s Taichiro Kiyota, who carded a 67.

Gangjee’s amazing run of four birdies in first eight holes was halted by a double bogey on ninth, where he went into water. Then he failed to find a single birdie on the back nine and had one bogey on 14th to finish with a 71 and be five-under 139.

Scott, winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Beijing in 2005, produced a second straight 68 to lie two off the pace in the $2.5 million event.

“I was struggling with my swing but since missing the cut (last week), I’ve been working on my game and watched a few of the good players here. I was watching Vijay on his backswing and he keeps his head really still.

“He doesn’t sway or slide on the backswing and I tried to do something similar as I move a lot on my back swing. I just tried to stay more steady and it’s working,” said Park.

Kiyota, playing in his second season on the Asian Tour, wielded a hot putter as he surged into contention. “My putting was very good. I enjoyed my two rounds so far, really enjoyed it. I’ve played my very best, it’s unbelievable,” said the Japanese.

“The key was I kept myself very calm. I’m working on staying focussed on the golf course. It’s a difficult golf course and I thought my way around it pretty well.”

Scott conceded he didn’t play his best as he grinded another 68 to stay in the title mix. The talented Australian said it was important for him to keep his name up the leaderboard as he bids for a second title of the season.

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