Thangaraja surges ahead with a flawless 67 at City Bank American Express Chittagong Open
Chittagong, Bangladesh, March 22, 2018: Sri Lankan N Thangaraja exhibited some outstanding iron-play during his flawless five-under-67 in round two of the BDT 50.00 lac City Bank American Express Chittagong Open 2018 that gave him an outright one-shot lead at 12-under-132.
Bangladesh’s Md Sajib Ali kept the flag flying high for the host nation as he carded a second round of four-under-68 to be placed tied second at 11-under-133 along with India’s Aman Raj who also struck a 68 at the Bhatiary Golf & Country Club on Thursday.
N Thangaraja (65-67) struck his irons and wedges with pin-point precision on day two to pick up five birdies that gave him a one-shot advantage at the top of the pack. Thangaraja, who was part of the four-way lead in round one, was off to a terrific start on Thursday as he made chip-putt birdies on the 10th and 11th, his first two holes.
The 36-year-old Thanga then came agonizingly close to making a hole-in-one on the 15th where his tee shot landed inches from the pin. The Colombo resident, on the road to recovery from a knee injury, once again missed the hole by a whisker with his tee shot on the second. He tapped-in for birdies on both occasions.
Thanga’s chip-in on the third accounted for his fifth birdie of the day and put him in the driver’s seat. The two-time winner on the PGTI made six pars thereafter which included an incredible recovery from the water on the ninth.
Thangaraja said, “My five iron and six iron shots continue to be my strength. I kept landing it close especially with these two clubs. I was really unlucky to miss out on a hole-in-one on the 15th. Initially, I thought I had holed it.
“I’m also very confident about my chipping at the moment. I’m constantly going for the pins when I chip. That’s the reason I managed to chip-in on the third today.
“One of the best moments of the round was making an up and down for par from 70 yards after finding the water with my tee shot on the closing ninth. That gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.”
Md Sajib Ali (65-68), one of the four joint overnight leaders, delivered yet another impressive performance with his 68 to stay in the hunt for the title. Sajib, who started form the 10th, was not as consistent as he would’ve liked over the first 10 holes as he made four birdies but also dropped four shots.
But the Dhaka-based Sajib made a strong comeback on the front-nine with some exceptional wedge shots from a range of 70 to 100 yards that helped him collect four birdies.
Sajib said, “My short-game wasn’t at its best on the back-nine even though I was hitting it well. I was then delighted with the way I fought back on the front-nine. I landed every approach within a couple of feet of the flag on the back-nine. I’ll carry forward the confidence from the birdies I made on the last two holes today.”
Aman Raj (65-68), also a part of the four-way lead on day one, slipped one place to join Sajib in tied second. The Patna-based golfer was even-par through the back-nine but like Sajib came roaring back with a strong front-nine where he sank two birdies and made a spectacular chip-in for eagle on the eighth.
India’s Veer Ahlawat, who made two eagles en route his 66, the day’s joint best score, was placed fourth at nine-under-135.
Bangladesh’s Md Ismail returned a 70 which featured an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys, to be placed fifth at eight-under-136.
Among the other prominent names, round one joint leader Harendra Gupta (73) of India dropped to tied seventh at six-under-138 while Bangladesh’s Md Zamal Hossain Mollah (68) was in tied 11th at four-under-140.
The cut was declared at five-over-149. Fifty-two professionals made the cut which included 21 Bangladeshis, 28 Indians, two Sri Lankans and one South African.