Avani grabs lead at Asian Games trials, Khalin in front among men

Kolkata: Avani Prashanth carded a stunning 6-under 66 to move to the top after the second round of the Indian Golf Union-run Asian Games golf trials here.

Amateur Avani, who became the first Indian in more than four decades to win the individual honours at the queen Sirikit Cup in February, rose from a 2-under 70 in the first round to get to 8-under 136 at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.

Avani was followed by another Karnataka golfer, Pranavi Urs, who followed up her first round 70 with a 5-under 67 and moved into second place at 7-under 137 and was one shot behind Avani.

In the men’s section, Khalin Joshi maintained his top spot as Karnataka golfers dominated the day. Khalin added 68 to his first round 67. At 9-under 135 he is two shots clear of the 2016 Olympian SSP Chawrasia (69-68) and the in-form Aman Raj (69-68) who are tied second at 7-under 137 each.

Two spots each are up for grabs in the men’s and women’s section as Aditi Ashok among women and Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma among men are slated to get automatic spots for the Asian Games to be held in China in September-October. Avani had four birdies and one bogey on each side of the RCGC. She had four birdies in six holes between the fourth and the ninth on the front nine and then birdied 11th and added three in a row from 13th to 15th.

Pranavi had a modest even par 36 on the front nine but sizzled on the back nine with three birdies and an eagle for 5-under 31. Pranavi has postponed the start of her season on the Epson Tour in the US to play the trials.

Khalin Joshi played a bogey-free 68 and stayed in front as Chawrasia, playing on his home course, had a run of three birdies in a row in the middle of the round and he had five birdies against one bogey in his 68.

Aman Raj, who won once on the PGTI earlier this season and had two Top-10 finishes in European Challenge Tour events in Bengaluru, also had three birdies in a row from eighth to tenth and overall had six birdies and two bogeys.

The 2010 Asian Games team silver medallist, Rashid Khan (69-69) was sole fourth, while Yuvraj Sandhu (69-70) and Ajeetesh Sandhu (68-71) were tied fifth. Overnight leader among women Amandeep Drall, dropped on the second day despite 2-under 70. Amandeep is now 6-under 138 and lying third, while Tvesa Malik, looking to regain her form, added 69 to her first round 70 and was fourth at 5-under 139.

Diksha Dagar (69-74), starting the day at second, slipped on the second day and is now fifth at 1-under 143 and Vani Kapoor (76-69) is sixth at even par 144.