From Asian Tour
India’s Rahil Gangjee (pictured) birdied three of his last seven holes for a one-under-par 70 to lead a trio of Asian Tour regulars in chasing clubhouse leader Pelle Edberg of Sweden in the early stages of the second round at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Friday.
Gangjee, who is half Mauritian, was two-over for the day at the Heritage Golf Club before rallying with birdies on the 12th, 14th and 18th holes to garner a two-day total of five-under-par 137 at the inaugural €1 million (approximately US$1.1 million) tournament tri-sanctioned by the Asian, European and Sunshine Tours.
Co-overnight leader Jeunghun Wang of Korea shot a topsy-turvy 72 to tie Gangjee and young Japanese star Masahiro Kawamura, who returned a 69 and lie three shots off the pace.
In contrast to his opening round which was wet and windy, the slightly-built Gangjee failed to take advantage of near ideal conditions at the Heritage course, dropping bogeys on four and 11. But he got his putter hot coming home to remain in contention for a second Asian Tour victory.
“When you go from windy conditions to totally no wind, it takes some adjustment. It just threw me off a bit,” said Gangjee. “And I didn’t make too many putts on the front nine. I just kept at it and made a few bogeys but I knew there were some birdies out there. I just stayed patient.”
While he is eager to end an 11-year title drought on the region’s premier Tour, Gangjee will not be pressed to be overly aggressive during the weekend rounds. “I just need to keep to my strategy as this course needs that. If it gets too windy, you just want to get the job done and not be thinking about the score or chasing anybody. You could get too caught up with that and lose your focus,” he said.
The 19-year-old Wang made four bogeys against a lone birdie on his outward nine but fought back with three birdies and one bogey. He successfully made his 22nd consecutive cut on the Asian Tour, a streak which began at the end of 2013.
“I made a lot of stupid things and missed a lot of putts,” Wang lamented. “My driver was hooking a lot. There was no wind this morning but I missed a lot of shots. I need to practice and prepare my shots better. Need to improve on my putting and driver for sure.”
Kawamura exchanged four birdies against two dropped shots as he moved into contention at the halfway stage of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. But the young Japanese will be hoping for his putter to find its range.
“My tee shots and iron play were very good. But my putting hasn’t been very good. 33 putts today and 30 yesterday. Too many putts,” he said.
“The greens are difficult for me to read. I need to putt better. The course is very good, fairways are very good but the greens are difficult (laughter). It’s my first time in Mauritius and I’m enjoying myself and going for swims every day.
Edberg, who has 13 top-10s in Europe but have yet to win, said: “It’s not a bad start. I’ve played pretty solid and pretty nice both days.”
One of the top attractions Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who opened with a 77 on Thursday, withdrew before the start of his second round following a neck injury.