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Chowrasia best Indian at Hong Kong Open golf


Hong Kong : S.S.P. Chowrasia stayed within striking distance of his best finish of the year as he added a second round one-under 69 to be three shots off the lead at the halfway mark of the USB Hong Kong Open here Friday.

Chowrasia was six-under 134 and three behind the quartet of leaders, including Liang Wen-chong, who were all at 131 as the leaderboard represented a traffic jam with 21 players within three shots of each other.

Only five of the 10 Indians stayed on for the weekend, as Chowrasia (tied 12th), Jyoti Randhawa (tied 22nd at five-under 135), Shiv Kapur (tied 34th at four-under 136), Rahil Gangjee (tied 43rd at three-under 137) and Jeev Milkha Singh (tied 54th at two-under 138).

The cut came at two-under 138 and the five missing the cut were Gaganjeet Bhullar (66-74), Gaurav Ghei (69-74), Anirban Lahiri (71-72), Chinnaswamy Muniyappa 73-71) and Digvijay Singh (76-69).

Chowrasia has not finished in the top-20 of the European Tour since his win in the Indian Masters at the start of 2008. On Asian Tour, he did have a tied fourth at the Singha Thailand Open, which was won by Jyoti Randhawa.

“It feels good to go into the weekend with the leaders in sight,” said Chowrasia. “I am feeling confident and will be aggressive.”

Liang Wen-chong kept his Asian Tour Order of Merit title hopes alive when he returned with a five-under-par 65 to grab a share of the second round lead. Liang’s two-day total of nine-under-par 131 meant that he will head into the weekend round as joint-leaders with France’s Gregory Bourdy, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel and Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands.

Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil posted a 66 to take a share of fifth place with South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini on 132 while morning leaders Danny Chia, Asian Tour’s honorary member, Yang Yong-eun and defending champion Lin Wen-tang are among the mix bunched in seventh place on 133.

The race for the prestigious Asian Tour’s Order of Merit crown is now down to a two-horse race between Liang and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee. But with Thongchai carding a 71 to slip down to 22nd place, Liang now holds a slender advantage over the Thai.

The Chinese knows that he needs either a second-place finish or a win at this week’s $2.5 million showpiece to pip Thongchai to the Order of Merit crown and is determined to make that final push towards becoming Asia’s No.1 again.

The Chinese managed to reel in only one birdie on the par-four seventh in his opening front-nine. But his game came alive after turn when he fired four birdies on the 11th, 12th, 17th and 18th to storm home with a blemish-free card.