Aman Raj and Aryan Roopa Anand carry Indian hopes at European Challenge Tour event
Khel Today Bureau
Bengaluru: Aman Raj (67-68) in tied third place and rookie Aryan Roopa Anand (68-68) in tied seventh were the top Indian hopes at the halfway stage of the US$300,000 Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge 2023 at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) in Bengaluru.
The field was led by Spain’s Manuel Elvira who followed his first round 63 with a 70 on day two to stay in the lead at 11-under 133.
Aman Raj was the best-placed Indian after a hard-fought 68 on Friday and he is now 9-under 135 as he shared the third place with Italy’s Stefano Mazzoli, Oliver Farr of Wales and England’s Ashley Chesters.
Aryan Roopa Anand, playing at his home course, also shot a 68 to rise five spots to tied seventh at eight-under 136.
The cut fell at three-under 141. Fifty-five professionals and two amateurs made the cut. Fourteen Indians out of a total of 52 made it to the money rounds.
Elvira kept his overnight one shot lead with Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg (68-66), a two-time winner in India, lying second at 10-under 134 at the event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and PGTI.
Aman Raj began well with birdies from two long conversions on the second and fourth holes. The 27-year-old from Patna then found trouble with bogeys on the sixth and seventh as his putter went cold. He made a three-putt on the sixth and missed a six-feet par putt on the seventh.
Aman claimed a good par with a tough up and down on the eighth before resurrecting his round with four birdies between the ninth and the 13th where he came up with a couple of excellent wedge shots.
Aman said, “The key for me was just trying to be in the present today. I started well but the bogeys on the sixth and seventh holes seemed to come out of nowhere and then I was in a spot of bother on the eighth hole too before I made par there. So at that stage I was wondering as to where my round was heading. It was then that I told myself to focus more on my game rather than the score.
“I got the momentum going with the three birdies on the ninth, 10th and 11th. It was an up and down round but I’m glad I managed to salvage it after being in trouble at one stage.”
Aryan Roopa Anand’s round featured seven birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey as he produced some great bunker shots and was consistent with his putting.
Aryan said, “My first two rounds have been equally good. I made more regulations in round one but today I putted better. I would say it was a harder four-under today. I’m quite happy with where I’m placed and I know being consistent on the last two days will keep me in contention.”
The 26-year-old Manuel Elvira remained patient throughout the afternoon but was disappointed not to extend his lead further after missing several birdie opportunities. He drained four birdies and dropped two bogeys.
Mari Muthu (69) and Om Prakash Chouhan (67) were tied 13th at seven-under 137 while Karan Pratap Singh (68) and M Dharma (71) were a further shot back in tied 18th place.
Among the prominent Indian names, Udayan Mane (69) was tied 30th at five-under 139 and Khalin Joshi (70) was tied 57th at three-under 141.
India’s C Muniyappa produced a hole-in-one on the 15th during his round of 67. However, he missed the cut, having totalled one-under 143.