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Feroz Ali leads in Hero Honda Western Open

By Staff
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Pune, Feb 23 (UNI) Feroz Ali, after equalling the course record in the opening round, continued in the same vein while submitting a second successive under-par card to take a four-shot lead against his nearest rival and defending champion Arjun Singh after the second round of the Hero Honda Western Open at the par-71 Poona Club Golf course here today.

The Kolkatan added a 66 to his overnight 63 to be in a comfortable position at 13-under par 129. Arjun Singh also submitted a card of five-under 66 for a 36-hole total of nine-under par 133 to be in the second position while Vijay Kumar was tied for the third place at 135 along with Sanjay Kumar.

Local challengers Gurki Shergill and Rajiv Niranjan Datar were sharing the fifth place with the No.1 on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour Order of Merit Mukesh Kumar at 136.

As many as 62 professionals made it to the money-making rounds after the cut was applied at six-over 148. Rafick Ali, Vikrant Chopra and local challenger Jaideep Patwaradhan were the notable players missing the bus.

Feroz Ali, currently at No.3 on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2005-06 season, began in a similar fashion as in his first round beginning with a spate of pars before making his first birdie on the par-5 seventh, despite a slice on his second shot. A longish drive on the eight saw the 36-year-old almost being holed on his second shot, missing an eagle by inches and ended up making a birdie.

Taking the turn at 2-under under, Feroz saved one more stroke on the dog-leg par-4 10th. With consecutive birdies on the 14th and 15th, he played it safe towards the end, lest he committed any mistake.

Thus he came unscathed in the club house as the leader.

''I was trying to play consistent golf. I knew if I played it safe, I would be in the front,'' said Feroz who is supported by Indian, Century Ply and Pioneer Polypipe.

Arjun Singh, meanwhile, had a better back nine compared to his opening round. After saving a great par on the par-4 third, where he hit his tee shot into the trees and faced a difficult second shot.

With 240 yards to cover, Arjun unleashed a perfect 4-iron to land on the green and made two putts from 30 feet. However, on the fourth, he three-putted for a bogey. He repaired the deficit by making birdies on the fifth and seventh while making birdies on the 10th, 11th, 14th and the finishing hole to stay in contention. ''I did not want to make any mistakes. I took my chances on the holes I needed to and made birdies,'' said Arjun.

Vijay Kumar, looking for his second victory on the Amby Valley PGAI's made two birdies on second and seventh before making an eagle on the par-4 ninth with a 25-footer to be four-under after the front nine. His back nine was laced with four more birdies on the 10th, 13th, 14th and 17th and could have added one more on the last hole but for a 3-putt from 10-feet.

Leading scores (after 36 holes) (Pros): 129 Feroz Ali (63,66); 133 Arjun Singh (67,66) 135 Vijay Kumar (71,64), Sanjay Kumar (66,69); 136 Gurki Shergil (68,68), Rajiv Datar (67,69),Mukesh Kumar (66,70); 137 Gurbaaz Mann (70,67), Vivek Bhandari (69,68), C Muniyappa (68,69), SSP Chowrasia (66,71); 138 Ashok Kumar (72,66), Rahul Ganapathy (71,67), Harinder Gupta (68,70), Jumman (68,70), Naman Dawar (68,70), Randhir Singh (66,72), Roop Singh (66,72).

Amateurs: 153 Mehul Rastogi (75,78); 158 V T Date (80,78).

UNI IS MAZ VD HS2229

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