Flawless Jeev rescues himself to come closer to second Merit title

November 14th, 2008 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Nov 14 (IANS) A busy and dramatic day of golf ended here Friday with Jeev Milkha Singh moving closer to his second Order of Merit as he completed a flawless three-under 68 in second round of the Barclay’s Singapore Open to finish one-under after 36 holes even as his main rival Mark Brown was certain to miss the cut after ending at nine-over. Ernie Els (70) and Simon Dyson (67) lead the tournament at six-under 136, while Chapchai Nirat (68) and 19-year-old Rory McIlroy (68) of Northern Ireland shared the third place with overnight leader Lam Chih Bing having played just one hole in the second round.

Play in the second round was still incomplete following a three-hour rain delay.

Of the other Indians to complete, S.S.P. Chowrasia’s fate hung in balance as he carded a 76 and was four-over for two rounds with the possibility of that being the cut-off score.

Rahil Gangjee, the only Indian to finish the second round so far, carded a second round 73, but following his 78 on first day, he was certain to end the tournament early.

Jeev returned Friday morning to complete his first round with a stunning eagle as his second shot with a rescue club from 260 yards on the fairway on the par-5 18th hit the flag and stopped six feet from the cup.

But moments later he learnt that he may have run on the wrong side of the rules on Thursday on the fourth hole. He was shown the tape and he agreed with the infringement and called a penalty and signed for a 73.

Shrugging aside that close shave, Jeev produced a flawless three-under-par 68 in the second round to get to one-under 141 for 36 holes and give his Order of Merit hopes a massive lift.

Jeev, who played four holes Friday morning, was five-under for his last 19 holes and four-under for the 22 holes on Friday.

As Order of Merit leader Brown of New Zealand was certain to miss the cut after rounds of 74 and 77, Jeev, the Asian Tour No. 1 in 2006, is certain to close in on the gap of about $137,000 which separates the top two players.

If Jeev finishes seventh or higher, he will overtake Brown as the new leader in the Merit race.

“I played rock solid in the second round. I hit some good putts but they just didn’t go in. I gave it 100 percent and I am pretty pleased with my round. Three birdies, three under par on this golf course, I’ll take it,” said Singh.

Jeev had three birdies on the 10th, the 18th and the fourth and no bogeys, to come back strongly as he played with Brown and current co-leader Ernie Els, whom he trails by five shots.

Late Thursday night rules officials were alerted that Jeev might have had a rules infringement and as soon as he finished the first round, he was asked to report to the referee and see TV footage. Jeev agreed that he had run afoul with the preferred lie ruling by mistake.

“It was good that someone called that in, otherwise I would have been disqualified,” said Jeev. “The rule is when you mark the ball, you got to have it in your hand. Once you leave it, it’s in play. On number four yesterday, I picked it up and placed it right back and that’s why I got a one shot penalty. One of the referees called in. I’m glad that happened, otherwise I won’t be playing now,” he said.

“I’m pleased with my position. I’m happy with the way I played the second round. I’m looking forward to the next two rounds. I’m pleased with how I handled myself. You can get frustrated out there as you hit some good putts and they don’t go in. On this course, you have to stay patient. Otherwise it’ll eat you up,” added Jeev.

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