Golfer Mukesh takes lead on Day Two of Panasonic Open

New Delhi, Dec 3 (IANS) Indian golfer Mukesh Kumar carded three-under-par 69 in the second round to grab the lead at the Panasonic Open India here on Saturday.

The 51-year-old golfer fired five birdies against two bogeys for an eight-under-par 136 total, giving himself a two-shot lead heading into the third and final round of the $400,000 Asian Tour event, which had earlier been reduced to 54-holes due to fog disruptions.

Mukesh, who has won over 120 professional titles in his career, got off to a flying start where he birdied the first three holes before picking up another shot on the eighth hole to turn in 32. He dropped two shots on his way home but recovered with a fifth birdie of the day on the 17th hole.

Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera (68) shared second place with Indian duo Khalin Joshi (71) and Shankar Das (67).

Perera, who returned to finish the last six holes of his second round in the morning, took advantage of his consistent driving accuracy to keep up his chase for a breakthrough win on the region’s premier Tour.

Commenting on the day, Perera said: “My driving accuracy has always been my strong point, especially on this course, and I am glad I put it to my advantage again. I gave myself very good chances out there. I had like four chip-ins from yesterday which saved me some shots too.”

Placed 112th on the Order of Merit, the 29-year-old golfer needs to win the tournament to secure his full playing rights on the Asian Tour in 2017 before heading into the season finale next week.

“I have just one more round to go to try and keep my card with a win. It’s not going to be easy but I know it is not impossible. Anything can happen tomorrow. I just have to stick to my game plan and do what I need to do. The plan is to hole some putts and I should have a good chance,” Perera said.

Sitting just one rung below Perera on the money list, Joshi also needs a victory to secure his playing rights on the Asian Tour for 2017.

“I didn’t hit the ball good in the last 18 holes but I putted well. I was just trying to finish with a decent number. I am going to the range to get some practice and get my swing back to how I hit the ball in the first round,” said Joshi, who traded one eagle and four birdies against three bogeys and a double-bogey.

“The key is to hit fairways here. I will be looking to do that in the final round tomorrow. If I keep doing that, I should have a good chance,” the 24-year-old added, placed second in the domestic rankings.

Defending champion Chiragh Kumar put himself in contention for a successful title defence after posting a 68 to stay three shots off the pace in sixth place alongside countrymen Rashid Khan, Shubhankar Sharma, Jyoti Randhawa and Deepinder Singh Kullar.

Among other golfers, Lee, a one-time winner on Tour till 2007, struck the second hole-in-one in his career with an eight-iron from 171 yards on the par-three fifth hole.

–IANS

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