Chiangmai (Thailand): Jyoti Randhawa turned the clock back with a flawless seven-under 65, which featured seven birdies, that carried him right to the top and in sole lead at 11-under 133 at the midway stage of the USD 750,000 Chiangmai Golf Classic here on Thursday.
Randhawa, the 2002 Asian Tour No. 1 holed seven birdies, four of them in his last six holes, as he led by one over Thai Khrongpa Thanyakon (65) at the picturesque Alpine Golf Resort.
Lying in tied third alongside veteran Scott Barr (69) was another Indian star Rashid Khan (69) at seven-under 137, while two other rising stars Shubhankar Sharma (70) and S Chikkarangappa (72) were in tied 21st place at three-under 141.
Also making the cut which fell at one-over 145, were M Dharma (70-74) in tied 48th and Abhijit Chadha (71-74) in tied 63rd place. While former PGA winner, Jason Dufner (69-69) was lying tied fifth, former Masters champion, Charl Schwartzel (77-68) rebounded from a nightmarish first round to make the cut on the line.
Indians missing the cut included Jeev Milkha Singh (72-74), Rahil Gangjee (74-74) and Himmat Rai (77-71). Randhawa, winner of eight Asian Tour titles besides one in Japan, opened with four straight pars before finding three birdies on front nine.
His birdie spree began with back-to-back birdies on 13th and 14th and he closed with two more on 17th and 18th and moved into sole lead. As Randhawa birdied the last two holes from close range for an 11-under-par 133 total, which was one shot ahead of Khrongpha, who matched Randhawa?s 65 after rolling in a 15-foot eagle on the last hole.
"I played too good. This is the best I've played in a long, long time. I fired on all cylinders today. My driving, second shots and putting were good. I only had one missed putt and the rest were a great round of golf," said the 42-year-old Randhawa.
A well-rested Randhawa, an eight-time Asian Tour winner but not since winning the 2009 Thailand Open, was excited to be in contention after taking a two-week break to recover from a 'tennis elbow'.
"I'm more focused now and what I?ve been training in the 'year and a half is now falling into place. I got a tennis elbow and I rested it for two weeks. The rest has helped. Golf is a funny game and anything can happen. I?m just happy that I?m there for the fight," said Randhawa.