Siem Reap (Cambodia): A flawless four-under 68 with three birdies in last six holes saw Ajeetesh Sandhu move up to tied fourth at the halfway stage on an otherwise disappointing day for Indians at the inaugural Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic here on Thursday.
Sandhu, playing his first full season on the Asian Tour on a country exemption, is now seven-under 137 and four behind joint leaders, Thailand`s Chinnarat Phadungsil (64) and Korean Kim Hyung-sung (65).
Things were not so good for the other four Indians, all of whom missed the cut. Shiv Kapur`s bogey free second round 70 was enough to keep him for the weekend, as he totaled even par 144 for two days and the cut came at one-under.
Also missing it by one shot was Feroz Ali, who added a 73 to his first round 71.
Himmat Rai (75-74) and Sujjan Singh (78-71) also missed the cut by five shots.
"It`s been two good days. I have been playing solid and the putting is also okay. I am driving it great. I did leave a couple of shots out there but that`s okay. It`s my first season out of India. I`m enjoying it so far. All my birdies were pretty close. Just one bogey in the last two days which was a three putt. So it`s been a solid two rounds," said Sandhu.
"Good courses, good competition and I thrive in that kind of stuff so it`s good. I have played the last two years in India. Before that I was in the US at the David Leadbetter Academy. I played the Asian Tour events in India last year and played fairly well to get my country card (exemption)," said the 23-year-old Sandhu, who last year finished third at the SAIL Open in India.
The 23-year-old Chinnarat, who is a three-time Asian Tour winner, snared nine birdies against a lone bogey to smash the one-day old course record with an eight-under-par 64 at the impressive Angkor Golf Resort.
Featuring in his first event of the year, Kim, 31, was also in brilliant form, shooting five straight birdies on his front nine and then holing out a sensational eagle on 16 from 30 yards. He followed up with another birdie on 17 but the Korean was denied the outright lead after dropping a bogey on his last hole for a 65 and 11-under-par 133 total.
Tall Irishman Niall Turner battled hot and humid conditions in the USD 300,000 Asian Tour event during a flawless 67 which left him one shot back of the leading duo.
He has not dropped a shot in 36 holes.
Overnight leader Baek Seuk-hyun was amongst those tied in fourth place, four strokes behind, after a 71. Filipino Elmer Salvador (69), Sandhu (68) and Thailand`s Thanyakon Khrongpha (66) also played their way into contention on 137.
Filipino Jay Bayron fired the tournament`s first hole-in-one at the par three ninth with a four iron en route to a 67. It was the first ace in his pro career.
The halfway cut was set at one-under-par 143, with 68 players progressing into the final two rounds.