PANCHKULA: After heavy rain and thunderstorm in the morning delayed the start of the second round by three and a half hours, the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship presented by Govt. of Haryana & Panchkula Golf Club (PGC) witnessed another storm, this time in the form of Gurugram golfer Veer Ahlawat’s extraordinary round of 10-under 62 that made him the clubhouse leader by a massive seven shots on day two as his total stood at an imposing 15-under 129.
The 25-year-old Ahlawat (67-62), playing his first competitive event in six months, continued his rich vein of form on the PGTI this season with his first two rounds of 67 and 62 and going bogey-free on day two. The tall and lanky Veer, a winner on the PGTI in 2019, had posted seven top-10s on the tour before the season had to take a forced break due to rise in Covid cases in India and the subsequent lockdown.
Ahlawat’s score did not break Mandeo Singh Pathania’s course record of nine-under 63 from 2009 as the rule of ‘preferred lie’ is in place this week.
Noida’s Amardeep Malik (71-65) struck a solid seven-under 65 with eight birdies and a bogey to be placed second in the clubhouse at a total of eight-under 136.
Out of a total field of 124, only 59 players completed their second round on Thursday due to the delayed start. The remaining 65 players with unfinished second rounds, will resume play at 0700 hrs local time on Friday.
Veer Ahlawat, who was overnight tied second and two off the lead after round one, admitted to getting over some early nerves before getting into his groove as he restarted his season at Panchkula.
The six-foot three-inch tall long-hitter from the DLF Golf & Country Club got going on Thursday with four straight birdies from the fourth to the seventh as he kept landing it within four to eight feet of the flag thanks to his brilliant hitting. Veer continued this trend on the back-nine by picking up six more birdies.
The standout moments for Ahlawat were finding the par-5 12th green in two for a two-putt birdie, a tap-in birdie on the 15th and his day’s longest birdie conversion of 14 feet on the 18th.
Veer said, “I’m proud of this effort as it’s my lowest ever score. My previous best was eight-under. I was a little nervous to begin the week as I’m playing an event after six months since I didn’t play on the PGTI last week due to personal reasons.
“After the first round, I knew my game was still in good shape just like the first half of the year. So I settled down well thereafter. I’ve had top-10s at this course in my last two appearances here so that further helped my confidence.
“The softer conditions due to rain didn’t really bother me as I anyway hit it quite long. I struck it to perfection today and landed it where I wanted to. I had just one bad drive on the ninth where I managed to save par. I also holed all putts within 10 feet today. I knew hitting it close wouldn’t count if I don’t sink the putts.
“All the work I’ve done on my putting during the season-break seems to be paying off. I used to practice putting indoors on my carpet during the lockdown. That kept me in touch with practice.”
Amardeep Malik, who had a top-5 finish in Hyderabad last week, carried forward the momentum with a 65 in round two.
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh (68-69) was third in the clubhouse at seven-under 137 while Harendra Gupta (71-67), another Chandigarh-based professional, was fourth in the clubhouse at six-under 138.Round one leader Yashas Chandra of Mysuru was even-par through nine holes to be at a total of seven-under when play was suspended at 1830 hrs local time on Thursday due to fading light.