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Indian-American Julian Suri leads; Shubhankar, Rashid best Indians

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Press Trust of India Gurugram
Julian Suri, an Indian-American who hails from the family that started the famous Buchi Babu cricket tournament in India, fired a second consecutive round of 67 to take lead into the weekend at the Hero Indian Open.
Suri, who was born in the US to and Indian father and a Mexican mother, is playing just his second event of the season after undergoing surgery on an abdominal hernia.
He picked up six shots in as many holes from the first nine to surge clear in the morning session.
Last year he missed the cut at the same event, with 76-82 and this week he is 24 shots better than that.
Shubhankar Sharma and Rashid Khan led a group of eight Indians into the weekend rounds.
Shubhankar opened and closed the front nine with birdies and dropped shots in between on the Par-5s, fourth, where he had an eagle. He ran out of birdies after that.
He also saved a couple, but dropped a shot on Par-3 16th and ended the day at 73. He was two-under and Tied-19th after two rounds.
Rashid Khan (70-72) played well around the turn with birdies on eighth, 11th and 12th in his round of 70 that had a total of four birdies against two bogeys.
The other Indians making the cut were Chawrasia, S Chikkarangappa (74-70) and Rahil Gangjee (70-74) at T-41. Ajeetesh Sandhu (74-71) was T-53 and Gaganjeet Bhullar (72-74) and Gaurav Pratap Singh (73-73) at T-61.
Australia's Scott Hend continued his fine form to sign for a bogey-free four-under-par 68 at the halfway stage. The big-hitting Australian compiled a two-day total of seven-under-par 137 to trail Suri by three shots in tied-fourth place.
Suri holds a two-shot edge over South Africa's George Coetzee (66) and Sweden's Robert Karlsson (68) in second place.
But the story of the day from an Indian viewpoint was the two-time winner S.S.P Chawrasia, who almost joined a parade of former champions making an early exit.
At five-over through 34 holes Chawrasia shot 74 on first day and was three-over through 16 on the second Chawrasia could not be blamed for feeling it was a missed cut, just like last year. He had three birdies, four bogeys and a double in the first 16 holes after starting from the tenth.
He even talked to his caddie about booking an early ticket. But then he sensed an outside chance with a good tee shot. He went for broke, ripping a driver and then a rescue and it almost fetched him the tournament's first albatross, or double-eagle as it is often called. He landed inside five feet for an eagle.
He got a birdie on ninth for a second day's score of 72 and at two-over 146 he was in for the weekend.
Lahiri (77-71) seemed to be gathering some momentum to compensate for a disappointing 5-over par 77 of the first day. Starting from tenth, he had a hat-trick of birdies on 18th, first and second to get to two-under for the day and three-over for the tournament. He had seven more holes to gain a couple of shots more to make the cut, which seemed likely at two-over.
Instead he dropped back-to-back bogeys on fifth and sixth to fall to five-over. A birdie on ninth made it 71 for the day but it was not enough to keep him in for the last two rounds.
The halfway cut was set at two-over-par 146 with 70 players advancing to the final two rounds.
The former champions who failed were Anirban Lahiri (77-71), the 2015 champion; Bangladesh's Siddikur Rehman (76-72), the 2013 winner; Aussie David Gleeson (84-83), the 2011 champion, and Jyoti Randhawa ( 76-74), the only three-time winner (2000, 2006 and 2007).

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First Published: Mar 29 2019 | 8:55 PM IST

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