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Honma Hong Kong Open

SSP Chawrasia takes two-shot lead at Hong Kong Open over Thomas Aiken

The Indian thrived in windy and cold conditions as others struggled, shooting 66 for a two-round total of nine-under 131

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 11:37am

On a day when most golfers were getting it wrong, India’s SSP Chawrasia was trying to figure out what he was doing right.

The 39-year-old ranked 231 in the world was one of only a handful of golfers who defied the conditions to shoot four-under or lower as he took a two-stroke lead after the second round of the UBS Hong Kong Open at Fanling on Friday.

The first-round lead, a four-time winner on the European Tour, shot a four-under-par 66 for a two-round total of nine-under-par 131 to lead Thomas Aiken, of South Africa.

World No 276 Aiken had the best score of the tournament so far, a six-under-par 64 to surge into contention. But before his charge, it was all Chawrasia, who at one point went to 10 under before a bogey on the 14th brought him back to nine under par.

Four players are four strokes behind on five under – Sweden’s Alexander Bjork (-4 for the day), Thai Poom Saksansin (-2), Swede Jaokim Lagergren (-4) and American Julian Suri (-3).

England’s Justin Rose, the 2015 champion, was sitting poised at three under after his one-under 69 put him three under for the tournament, with China’s Li Haotong alongside him in the standings.

When asked what he was doing differently to others, Chawrasia said: “Well, I’m just following my game. Same thing. I’m playing the last two days exactly the same strategy. I’m just playing the same. Nothing special.”

The theme for most of the players was that the windy conditions made it difficult to target the pin but Chawrasia simply stuck to his game plan.

“It was a great round today. I was five under at one time and then three-putted No 14 but still, it’s a good score and I’m happy.

“I saved a couple of shots at the first hole and the second hole, and I got good confidence after that. I made a couple of putts today and I’m hitting it well,” said Chawrasia, who according to the European Tour is among the shortest hitters on the circuit.

His only blemish was a bogey on 14, after five birdies, when he three-putted from 10 feet.

The 34-year-old Aiken, a three-time winner on the European Tour, was one of the few golfers who appeared comfortable at the chilly Hong Kong Golf Club.

He was more forthcoming on what it takes to shoot low scores on the course.

“I mean, it is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You’ve got to hit the fairway. You’ve got to put the ball in the right position on the greens. If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you,” he said.

“I really stayed patient and didn’t try and force any putts to try and make anything. Just rolled them by the hole and a few went in. But nothing ridiculous.

“All in all, it was just a solid ball-striking round and I think I missed two greens and got up and down both times. It always helps doing that to keep the momentum going. All in all, really pleased with the round. Second one of the season, so may it long continue.”

Aiken picked up birdies on the first, fourth, eighth, 13th, 16th and 17th, for no bogeys. Another South African, Dylan Frittelli, had the second-best round of the day with his five-under-par 65 that puts him four under for the tournament alongside seven other golfers, including England’s Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood, who shot two-under 68 on Friday.