Simi stays top Indian, Phatlum in line for back-to-back victories

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Gurgaon, Mar 27 (UNI) Smriti Mehra shot one-over 73 to continue to be the best Indian in the field with a two-round aggregate of two-over 146, while aggressive Phatlum Pornanong of Thailand flew on the wings of a stunning eagle to keep her top spot intact in the second round of the DLF Women's Indian Open Golf here today.

Smriti is placed joint eighth.

Irina Brar, India's best hope after Smriti, was hit by the recurrence of a back injury that saw her dropping five shots on last four holes to come in with a 81 that gave her a two-day total of 13-over 157.

Another Indian, Tanya Wadhwa made the upward move with a round of 75 that took her to tied 21st place. While England's Kiran Mathru was tied at 24 after a round of five over 77. She had a first round of 76.

Phatlum shot a second successive two-under 70 to go four-under for the tournament and lead by two over World Cupper Wang Chun of China, who finished with 69, the best card so far in the tournament and she is now two-under 142 following her first round of 73.

Japan's Yuki Sakurai, who also shot a two-under 70, is third at two-under 142.

With only three players having sub-par totals, Shih Huei-Ju of Chinese Taipei was fourth at even par 144 with a second straight round of 72.

After Yeo Jin Kang of Korea pulled out, 61 players including 12 amateurs, stayed in the fray for the final day.

''I was happy with my putting today. But I will have to work even harder to stay in contention and will go all out tomorrow,'' said Smriti, who finished tenth at the Thailand Ladies Open earlier in the season.

There was a second hole-in-one, as another Chinese Taipei pro Chen Kuan-Pei aced the 187-yard par 3 16th hole. She shot a second round of 72 to be three-over 147.

Chen was the second player to log an ace and even more interestingly, the duo also share a room at the hotel. The pair will now share the Rs 50,000 reward for an ace.

Phatlum may well have gone further ahead but for a bogey on the closing hole 18th, where she missed a par put after getting into the greenside hazard. ''I was trying for a birdie and got a bogey,'' said Phatlum with a smile. ''But I am still happy.'' Phatlum has 11 birdies and an eagle in just two rounds.

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