Kshitij Naveed Kaul climbed the top with a sublime seven-under 65 in Round Two of the ICC RCGC Open at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
The 20-year-old Kshitij (69-65), a winner on the PGTI in 2019, struck the tournament’s best round so far featuring nine birdies and two bogeys to take his 36-hole tally to 10-under 134 for a two-shot lead. Kaul made a gain of five spots from his overnight tied sixth.
Angad Cheema (68-68), part of the five-way lead on Day One, shot a second consecutive 68 to occupy second place at eight-under 136.
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Ankur Chadha (68-69), also a joint leader in Round One, ended Day Two in third place at seven-under 137 following his 69 on Friday.
The cut came down at three-over 147. Fifty-three professionals made the cut.
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Kaul, currently 19th on the Order of Merit and fresh from top-20s in his last three events, had birdies at regular intervals on the front-nine picking up shots on the second, fourth, seventh and ninth as a result of conversions from a range of seven to 15 feet.
He then slowed down after a couple of erratic tee shots resulted in bogeys for him on the 10th and 11th. Kaul then came roaring back with a birdie on the 12th followed by four in succession from the 15th to the 18th. He narrowly missed eagles on the 15th and 17th with his approach from 160 yards landing within inches of the pin on the latter. The promising youngster signed off in style with a 20-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.
He said, “It’s great to have made nine birdies today. The big difference between yesterday and today’s round was that my ball-striking was better today and I also converted some long putts. I came back well after those two bogeys in the middle of the round.
“A low score is that much more special at the RCGC as the greens are tough to read here and one can’t get away with a bad shot at this course.
“I missed a few tournaments this season in order of work on my game and my swing. All that hard work is paying off now.”
Cheema began the day with two birdies but then made pars and dropped a bogey to be one-under for the day through 13 holes. He then pushed ahead with three birdies between the 14th and the 17th.
Chadha mixed four birdies with a bogey during his 69 which featured two conversions from a range of 12 to 20 feet.
Defending champion Mithun Perera (73-73) was tied 33rd at two-over 146.