Gurgaon: Anirban Lahiri and Shamim Khan kept the Indian flag flying high in tied seventh, but it was Peter Whiteford of Scotland, looking for his maiden win, carded a four-under 68 to move two clear at the end of the second round of the Avantha Masters on Friday.
Whiteford was two ahead of Thailand`s Prom Meesawat, whose stunning round of eight-under 64 saw him make the biggest move today. Whiteford is now 10-under for two rounds, while Meesawat is at eight-under 136.
Four others are at seven-under 137 as the leaderboard was crowded, setting the stage for an exciting finish over the weekend at the DLF Golf & Country Club.
India`s best came from Anirban Lahiri, who gave ample evidence of the calm that a recent meditation camp has brought in him. One over after five, he turned in even par and then had a hat-trick of birdies from 13th to 16th.
He was playing with two former Indian Open champions, David Gleeson who missed the cut, and Liang Wen-chong who made it on the cut line.
Lahiri was tied at seventh, the same as Shamim Khan (70-68).
The cut came at even par and 67 players made it. Of them there were 12 Indians, and two from the neighbourhood, who play on the Indian PGTI Tour, Mithun Perera (Sri Lanka) who shot 70-72 and Mohd Siddikur (Bangladesh) who carded 72-73.
The Indians who made it included Himmat Rai, who overcame a triple bogey on 12th, his third hole of the day, to finish at 72 and at four-under he was tied 25th.
Vivek Bhandari, who stunned himself with a first round 69, was rattled with three bogeys in a row from 15th to 17thon his first nine after starting from the tenth. He recovered and finished at par to be tied 30th. Also tied at 30th were Jeev Milkha Singh, Shiv Kapur and Vijay Kumar.
SSP Chowrasia made the cut comfortably with his second round 72 despite two bogeys in his first three holes. He had three birdies in his last four holes that also included another bogey. He was tied 43rd.
Manav Jaini (70), Mukesh Kumar (72) and Sanjay Kumar (7) were tied 43rd at one-under for 36 holes and Gaurav Pratap Singh (72) sank a birdie on his 18th hole to make the cut at even par.
Meanwhile, satisfied with his game, Lahiri said, "I played pretty solid today. I thought I still missed a few opportunities. Ironically my round started rather badly with a bogey on the very first hole. On the second hole after a really bad drive, I was staring a bogey but a great recovery shot left me with a 30 feet birdie putt. I sank it.
"That set the tone for the day and I erred only once more, on the fifth. Thereafter birdies on the sixth, and a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th to the 15th saw me through."
Shamim was happy to have played well on the day.
"I played fabulous golf today. While the conditions were good and conducive, one still has to convert good scores. Things didn`t start out too well. There was an early hiccup in the form of a bogey on the 11th where I three-putted. Putting is so mental that it is very important to put a bad hole behind you at this level.
"My shot of the day came on the sixth. I hit a driver to the center of the fairway. It was a tough approach shot but a well timed and directed three-wood placed my ball seven feet form the cup. I missed an eagle by a whisker. Six birdies overall is not too bad for a day`s work," said Shamim.
Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand battled to a 70 to remain in contention with a tied-seventh place together with eight other players including Shamim Khan and Lahiri.
Chowrasia, who is defending his title, said, "I started my round with a forgettable three-putt on the tenth and then on 12th I missed another short par putt. The bogey on the 18th was more an error off the tee-box. My round today was marred by poor putting."