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Keita Nakajima on top in India

Keita Nakajima on top in India

Keita Nakajima fired a second consecutive 65 to open up a two-shot lead on day two of the Hero Indian Open.

The Japanese held a six-shot advantage after 11 holes in round two but was reeled in by Frenchman Romain Langasque before he finished birdie-eagle to once again give himself some breathing space at 14 under.

Langasque's 66 left him a shot clear of Italian Matteo Manassero and two ahead of fellow Frenchman Jeong weon Ko.

Dutchman Joost Luiten was at ten under playing the 16th when the hooter sounded at 4.57pm at DLF Golf & Country Club and was one of 46 players who returned to complete their rounds at 7.30am local time on Saturday. He played his final three holes in level par to remain alongside Ko in a share of fourth place.

Nakajima - who spent a record 87 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking - is playing his rookie campaign on the DP World Tour after topping the Order of Merit on the Japan Golf Tour last season.

The 23-year-old is the latest player to take that pathway to the DP World Tour, with Rikuya Hoshino, currently second on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex, having finished second on the Order of Merit in 2022.

Nakajima's best finish so far on the DP World Tour is fourth at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship but he has four wins on the Japan Golf Tour and is enjoying being on top.

"I'm comfortable," he said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"The birdie on the 17th was big for me because I made the three bogeys before. It was good, the birdie-eagle finish.

"The back nine is more tricky, the front nine you can be more aggressive. Two more days and I'll try my best."

Nakajima came home in 30 after starting on the tenth to join the lead on day one and he once again hit the birdie trail on the front nine.

He made five in a row from the fourth and when he added further gains on the tenth and 11th to make it seven in eight holes, his lead was six shots.

But he would remarkably find himself one off the lead within five holes as he made a hat-trick of bogeys from the 14th and Langasque was on the charge.

The 28-year-old had bogeyed the tenth and 12th but hit back with birdies on the 14th, 15th, 18th and first before dropping another shot on the second.

Gains on the third and fourth edged him back towards the top and as Nakajima slipped up, he took advantage, birdieing the seventh and making an eagle from long range on the eighth.

Nakajima was not done, however, and he birdied the 17th from ten feet before holing a 15-footer on the last for an eagle and a two-shot lead.

Manassero holed out from 152 yards on the par-four 17th and added another eagle at the eighth but also had a double-bogey on the 18th and three birdies in a 68.

Ko also had a hole-out eagle on the first as he carded five birdies and two bogeys in a second consecutive 67.

Luiten was three under for his round having just eagled the 15th, one ahead of nearest home challenger Veer Ahlawat, who carded an eagle, five birdies and a bogey in a 66. Ahlawat was joined on nine under par by American Johannes Veerman, who birdied his final hole when he returned to the course on Saturday morning.

They are one shot ahead of Danish pair Niklas Norggard and Jeff Winther, Frenchman Ugo Coussaud, Swiss Joel Girrbach, England's Matthew Jordan and Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti, who were all in the clubhouse.

Norway's Espen Kofstad was at one under after going 19 shots better than in round one, following an 81 with a 62 that was a new course record by two shots.

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