Rafael Cabrera-Bello holds a one shot clubhouse lead, but two of Asia’s biggest golfing superstars are hot on his heels at the Avantha Masters.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee will both resume their second rounds on Saturday morning just one behind the Spaniard’s eight under par target with seven holes remaining.
With Thursday’s three-and-a-half hour fog delay half the field still have to complete their second rounds at DLF Golf and Country Club in New Delhi.
Cabrera-Bello’s only previous European Tour win came when he sensationally carded a record-equalling 60 in the final round of the Austrian Golf Open to snatch the title from Benn Barham, but he leads from the front after finishing an opening 67 this morning before adding a 69.
“I started really well, hit some great shots and made some great putts,” he said.
“Then on the back nine I struggled a little bit off the tee and didn’t mange to hit as many fairways as I would have liked, which then meant that I didn’t create as many opportunities.”
The 26 year old’s day could have been even better - he was ten under with three to play but dropped a shot at the seventh before finding water at the par five ninth and missing his ten foot par effort.
“I went for it at the last and it didn’t happen and I ended up in the water,” he added. “I almost saved the par but it just missed. But overall nothing went particularly wrong so I can’t have too many complaints.”
Cabrera-Bello is in fantastic form having finished seventh, 30th, third and 20th in the four Desert Swing events, but knows that he will need to maintain that level of performance with Singh and Jaidee joined by Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Shiv Kapur, Robert Coles and Mark F Haastrup on seven under.
“I am playing well but this is a very weird sport and you have to try to focus day by day and shot by shot and if I am in with a chance on Sunday I will try to take it,” added Cabrera-Bello, who had posted five birdies before his late slip.
Singh, a three-time European Tour winner and twice Asian Number One had moved into contention late in his first round with two birdies and an eagle in his last four holes, and he continued in a similar vein when he resumed.
The 39 year old had three birdies on the front nine and did not drop a shot in the 11 holes possible before darkness set in.
Former paratrooper Jaidee, whose four European Tour wins have ominously all come on Asian soil, dropped a shot at the first but responded with a hattrick of gains from the third and also birdied the ninth and 11th.
Haastrup took the 117th - and last - card on last season’s Race to Dubai, but has had a difficult start to 2011 after breaking his hand.
“I just slipped walking along the street one day and fell very awkwardly and damaged the meniscus, which is still a little bit weak so I am just using the tape to give it a little bit more support,” he said.
“I didn’t have great results in Qatar or Dubai but the fact that I made the cuts in both of those events was really good for my confidence and really good just to play four rounds in both tournaments because the main thing that I need right now is to play as often as I can.”
First round leader Robert-Jan Derksen made a disappointing start to his second round to be two over at the turn and back on four under.