Friday, 30 November 2018
Kurt Kitayama  (Getty Images)
Kurt Kitayama (Getty Images)

Kurt Kitayama produced a second successive 65 to open up a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open at Anahita.

Qualifying School graduate Kitayama fired nine birdies on a very warm morning at Four Seasons Golf Club Mauritius at Anahita, with a double bogey at the second the only blemish on his scorecard.

Fellow early starter S Chikkarangappa was Kitayama's closest challenger on 12 under after the joint first-round leader mixed seven birdies with three bogeys in his second-round 68.

Frenchmen Victor Perez and Matthieu Pavon were another shot back in a tie for third, while Irishman Gavin Moynihan was alone in fifth on ten under after matching Kitayama's 65 in tougher afternoon conditions.

American Kitayama began the day a single stroke behind overnight leaders Perez and Chikkarangappa after notching seven birdies and no bogeys on Thursday afternoon.

After opening his second round with a birdie at the first, he carded a disappointing double bogey at the par-five second to slip back to six under.

But he responded in style, reeling off four straight birdies from the third to jump to the top of the leaderboard.

Kitayama then safely parred the next six holes before making back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th.

After pulling off a superb par save from around ten feet at the 16th, he tapped in his birdie putts from close range at the 17th and 18th to set the clubhouse target at 14 under par.

"I started with a birdie and then just had a little blunder at two," said Kitayama. "I got back on track straight after so it was nice to bounce back after a double. 

"I'm driving it well, which is making it a lot easier. It's a pretty big advantage to be able to hit shorter irons in. I'm feeling pretty comfortable.

"I'll stay the same over the weekend, still be aggressive. It's gone well so far so I don't want to switch things up too much."

Chikkarangappa, meanwhile, started at the tenth tee on Friday and reached the turn in 37 after following up a birdie at the 11th with bogeys on the 14th and 15th.

But he made amends, opening his back nine with five straight birdies to get to 12 under.

Chikkarangappa dropped another shot at the sixth but finished his second round with an eight-foot birdie putt at the ninth to get within two shots of Kitayama.

"I started the round well - a par followed by a birdie. I just got a bit of bad luck on holes 14 and 15, where my ball got plugged in the bunker. 

"I told myself to hit more fairways and give myself birdie opportunities, and that was what I did from hole one.

"I birdied the first hole and made birdies until hole five. That was an important run for me to get back to where I was yesterday.

"I putted really well, made some solid putts on four and five. There were some tough lines and I was able to read them. Overall, it was a good front nine (holes one to nine).

"I'm looking at making my card look red. That's the goal for this week."

South African Trevor Fisher Jnr will head into the weekend on nine under after firing an eagle and four birdies in his spotless 66.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T2S, ChikkarangappaIND18-18
T2PAVON, MatthieuFRA18-18
4HARDING, JustinRSA18-17
T5KAWAMURA, MasahiroJPN18-16

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