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Friday, 29 February 2008

Shiv Kapur added some Indian spice to the Johnnie Walker Classic as he moved into a share of the halfway lead with Australian Unho Park at ten under par 134.

Kapur, who lives in New Delhi, shot a seven under par 65 at the DLF Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of the nation’s capital city to match Park, who had set the target earlier in the day with a round of 66.

It was another superb day for Indian golf with Jyoti Randhawa, who lives only five minutes from the course, using his local knowledge to full advantage as he returned a seven under par 65 to lie just one shot off the leading pair with Japan’s Taichiro Kiyota. India’s growing strength in depth was further evident in the fact that 11 of the 18 home players in the field survived the halfway cut.

World Number Five, Adam Scott, who shot a 68, heads the group of four players two shots off the lead alongside the English pair of Phillip Archer and Graeme Storm and Spain’s José Manuel Lara on eight under par 136.

Kapur picked up three birdies and an eagle on the par five sixth, where he hit a perfect three iron to ten feet, to reach the turn in 31 and he picked up another two shots coming home to proudly fly the Indian flag at the top of the leaderboard.

“I got off to a good start and made an eagle on front nine and a couple birdies but I just seemed to be putting pretty well,” he said. “I don't know how many putts I made today, but I felt like I putted well.  I rolled the ball well and I made all the putts I needed to.”

Kapur, who earned his European Tour card as an Affiliate Member in 2006 and improved his Order of Merit position last year by climbing from 116th to 97th, is heading the charge to follow the example of SSP Chowrasia, who delivered a home winner on The European Tour’s first visit to India three weeks ago in the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters.

Kapur will go into the third round of the event sanctioned by The European Tour, Asian Tour, Australasian Tour and PGTI tied with Park.

The Korea-born Australian reeled off five birdies in six holes only to suffer bogey fives on the 12th and 15th holes. However, the 34 year old Singapore-based player birdied the final two holes to set the target.

Park missed the cut in last week’s SAIL Open on the Asian Tour but found something in his swing after watching three-time Major Champion Vijay Singh on the range.

“I was watching Vijay on his backswing and he keeps his head really still,” said Park, “I tried to do similar things as I move my head a lot. I just tried to stay steady and it is working.”

Randhawa, currently the highest placed Indian on the Official World Golf Ranking in 77th place, is pushing for a place in the top 50 to qualify for the Masters and is in sparkling form with three top tens including runner-up last week on the Asian Tour. As a member of the DLF Golf and Country Club his home advantage could be important over the final 36 holes.

“You are playing in your own country and people expect you to play well, you expect to play well and before you know it, you play and start scoring,” he said, “I just wanted to go out and have fun and do the best I could with my game.”

Lara also shot a 65 in the afternoon to move to eight under par and has shown he too can compete in India having finished third at Delhi Golf Club three weeks ago.

“I feel good playing in India,” admitted the Spaniard. “I finished third three weeks ago and I am playing well again. I am putting well on tough greens which are difficult to read so I am happy with that.”

Storm returned a round of 66 with seven birdies and a solitary dropped shot but the round of the day went to Archer, whose eight under par 64 was just one stroke outside the course record. Last year he claimed three runners-up finishes on his way to a career high of 29th on The European Tour Order of Merit and again looks to have hit his stride. He followed two early birdies with an eagle three on the 18th hole, his ninth. He then reeled off four birdies on the return.

"I don't like to say it is easy but it felt very easy with no stress," Archer said.

"I went on the range yesterday and found a few key things in the swing, got a little more patient on the top of the swing and struck it lovely today."

Scott, chasing a second European Tour title of the year following his success in Qatar last month, was pleased after finding the tricky greens playing more true in the morning.

"At the moment I'm right in contention, so that is a good spot to be,” he said. “"I didn't play quite as well today as I did yesterday but still managed to have a good round," said the Australian, whose only blemish was a bogey five on his fourth hole.”

 

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