India`s Himmat Rai in joint lead at Handa Classic in Singapore

Singapore: Promising Indian golfer Himmat Rai carded a brilliant four-under 66 to share the lead with two others at the USD 300,000 ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on Friday.

Rai, who is still looking for his maiden win on the Asian Tour, shared the lead with Thai Thaworn Wiratchant (68) and Finland`s Kalle Samooja (66) at the Orchid Country Club.

While Rai`s performance was outstanding, the other Indian challenge was rather weak.

Anriban Lahiri (71-68), winner of Panasonic Open (India) this year was the next best Indian in tied 27th place, while Sujjan Singh (71-70), Mandeo Pathania (69-72) and Ashok Kumar (71-70) were tied 49th at one-over.

Also making the cut were Abhishek Jha (72-70 and Vinod Kumar (72-70) in tied 62nd place.

Chiragh Kumar, Vikrant Chopra, Manav Jaini, Feroz Ali, Digvijay Singh and Gaurav Ghei missed the cut, which was set at two-over with a total of 71 players making it into the weekend rounds.

Rai`s round was highlighted by three birdies in a row from ninth to 11th holes and his other birdies were on third and 15th. His sole bogey of the day was on sixth hole.

Happy with his performance, Rai said, "My strategy was a little better today. I didn`t go for as many tough pins as yesterday which cost me a couple of holes. I basically played more for positions on the greens and it worked out well."

"It has been a great learning curve the last four years. I`m going to use all my experience and gain some more in the seasons to come," said Rai, who became a professional in 2007.

"I`ve been in this position before and I`ll make the best use of this opportunity to go for a win."

Rai, 24, who has one win on Indian PGTI Tour, had his best moment on the Asian tour in 2009, when he went up against Asian superstar KJ Choi of Korea before finishing third in the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia.

Malaysia`s Danny Chia (69), Elmer Salvador of the Philippines (67) and in-form Brazilian Adilson Da Silva (67) are one shot behind leaders, Rai and Thaworn.

The fourth-placed trio are a stroke back on 135 while Chinese Taipei`s veteran Wang Ter-chang (69) is among eight players bunched in equal seventh place on 136.

Samooja, a Qualifying School graduate, is hoping to join countryman and regular roommate Joonas Granberg in the exclusive winner`s club following the latter`s win at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in July.

The ISPS Handa Singapore Classic, which is supporting relief and rebuilding efforts in Japan following the tsunamai tragedy this year with a USD 100,000 donation, will be beamed live on the Asian Tour`s television platform of over 200 nations and 850 million homes during the weekend rounds.


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