DGC Open: Chikkarangappa opens up three-shot lead

Chikkarangappa S says he is “not a fan: of Delhi Golf Club (DGC) because of its nuances and level of difficulty but that certainly did not show today as he confidently swept into the lead at The DGC Open presented by Mastercard.

The Indian fired a brilliant second-round bogey-free six-under-par 66, on DGC’s enchanting Lodhi Course, to go 10 under and take a healthy three-shot lead over his compatriots Om Prakash Chouhan (68) and Rashid Khan (70), Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong (70), the defending champion, and Sadom Kaewkanjana (67), and England’s Matt Killen (69).

Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, the impressive young Thai golfer beaten by Australian Wade Ormsby in a sudden-death play-off last week at the International Series Thailand, carded a 67 and is one shot further back with countryman Poom Saksansin (66), first-round leader Siddikur Rahman from Bangladesh, who will be disappointed to card a 73 after his 65 yesterday, and Filipino Justin Quiban (71) – in the Asian Tour’s first visit of the season to the sub-continent.

Chikkarangappa S of India [Photo credit: Paul Lakatos/ Asian Tour]
Chikkarangappa S of India [Photo credit: Paul Lakatos/ Asian Tour]

Chikkarangappa, who started on the back nine, made four birdies on his first nine, birdied his last two, and hit 18 greens in regulation said: “Honestly I am not a fan of this golf course, not a really big fan, but I am just learning how to play every year.”

A top-10 in last week’s International Series Thailand, where he shared the third-round lead with Siddikur, has clearly had a positive effect on a player who has twice finished second on the Asian Tour before.

“I have been putting really well, discussing things with my caddie, and striking the ball really well,” said the Indian, better known as “Chikka”, who has triumphed twice before on the Asian Development Tour, at the TAKE Solutions India Masters in 2014 and 2015.

“I have given a big responsibility to him [his caddie], with no driver in the bag, to hit the most number of fairways, and with that everything will fall in place.”

Nitithorn beat India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu here last year to claim his maiden Asian Tour title and despite not being at his best today he is perfectly placed heading into the weekend of the US$750,000 event.

“I birdied the first but after that my approach shots weren’t so good,” said the Thai golfer.

“I struggled a little bit, bogeyed five, and then a bogey on 10 made me at one over par. After that I came back with birdies on 14, 15 and 18. Yeah struggling, but I am pretty happy to get back to two under. I’ll take that.”

Poom’s 66, the joint lowest round of the day with Chikkarangappa, was highlighted by an incredible run of five birdies in the last seven holes of the back nine, which was his first half as he started on 10, with his only dropped shot of the day coming on 16. After birdies on one and two he parred his way home.

“I played good, the driving was good,” said Poom, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour with the most recent coming at the 2018 Indonesian Masters, an event he also won in 2016.

“There were some misses but still I played well. Most of the time my birdies were from like six feet or six feet. I hit my irons better today.

“This is my third time at DGC. The conditions are now way better at the new course. But the bushes are still the same, if you get into it it is difficult to come out. The fairway is softer so better conditions.”

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