Diminutive Indian star, SSP Chawrasia, holed in a couple of testy pars coming in for a superb 4-under 68 that lifted him inside the Top-5 when he finished his second round at the Austrian Open on Friday in Austria.
It was a good day for the Indians, as Shubhankar Sharma bounced back from a first round 75. He was 5-under through 11 before he dropped a bogey on 15 and finished at 4-under 68 and was lying T-18.
Ajeetesh Sandhu, playing his first event outside India since March last year, made an even bigger comeback after 77 in the first round. Sandhu was 2-under for the day and he was on the bubble at 3-over with three holes to play.
Chawrasia at 4-under through 36 holes and lying T-5th as Alejandro Canizares (70) at 7-under was leading by one over John Catlin (70) and Martin Kaymer (70) who were both at 6-under.
Justin Walters (68) is fourth at 5-under, while Chawrasia, Max Kieffer (68), Jacques Kruyswijk (72) and Richard Mansell (71) at T-5.
Chawrasia, a four-time European Tour winner, has never won an European Tour outside India, also said he would be delighted to follow in the footsteps of Jeev Milkha Singh, who won the Austrian Open in 2008.
Chawrasia, who has missed the cut in his last six starts on the European Tour, was happy to find himself near the top after a struggling run late last year when golf resumed following the shut down due to the pandemic. This year, too, he missed all three cuts – first in Qatar and then twice in Kenya.
“No, I did not think about those missed cuts when I started today. I was thinking about handling the cold weather. On the first day it was 3 degrees and very cold when I began. Today it was about 6 degrees and we were joking that we were wearing all the clothes we had brought,” said Chawrasia with a laugh.
“I had an even par on first day but today I got off to a good start. The driving and hitting was fine and putting worked, though I thought I should have got a couple of them more, bit 4-under is not bad in these cold conditions.”
He went on, “The bogey on ninth was my only mistake and I had also birdies on 13 and 15. It was good to get three of the four Par-5s. That will be the key again on the weekend.”
On the course itself, he said, “This course has a bit of Delhi Golf Club look in it especially holes like the 14 and 15th.’
Going back to his season, he said, “It was not as if I was playing badly, it was just that I was not getting a few good rounds together.” Chawrasia had under-par rounds in five of those six missed cut, including a 66 in the second round at Kenya Savannah but still missed the cut after a first round 75 and the cut went at 3-under.
The event is being telecast live in India on 1Sports and supported by Hero, who have an event each in India and Europe on the Tour.