BANGKOK, Thailand: Kurt Kitayama of the United States shot his second seven-under-par 65 in two days to take control at the halfway stage of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Friday.
The 25-year-old started where he left off, making a birdie on hole one. However, he dropped shots for the first time in the tournament, making a double-bogey at the par-five second.
Undeterred, Kitayama displayed plenty of resolve and skill to came back with four consecutive birdies in his subsequent four holes at the Four Seasons Golf Club, Mauritius at Anahita.
Kitayama, who is enjoying a successful season on the Asian Tour after making the mark at this year’s Qualifying School, sunk four more birdies on his inward nine before signing for a 13-under-par 130 total at the event, tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
India’s Chikkarangappa S. is two shots behind after ending his day with a 68. The wheels seemed to have fallen off for the 25-year-old Indian after consecutive bogeys on holes 14 and 15. However, he made a fantastic recovery after the turn by sinking five birdies in a row from holes one to five. Another birdie on nine put him in lone second going into the weekend rounds.
Frenchmen Victor Perez and Matthieu Pavon shot 69 and 66 respectively to keep up the pace. They are three shots behind the leader, in tied-third.
Justin Harding made the cut for the first time at the AfrAsia BankMauritius Open. The South African hit some wild drives on his first 10 holes that led to three bogeys, but he managed to haul himself back into contention with four consecutive birdies from holes two to five.
Harding finished the second day in tied-seventh, and he has an excellent opportunity to close the gap on leader Shubhankar Sharma in the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings race.
65 players made the cut, which was set at two-under-par 142.
Did you know:
– Kurt Kitayama earned his Asian Tour this year via Qualifying School with a third-place finish. Tour cards are given to golfers within the top-35 and ties.
– He was 1121st on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) at the end of 2017. He is currently ranked 362nd after his fine performances on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and Asian Tour.
– Kitayama has yet to miss a cut and he has three top-10s on the Asian Tour this season. He is 20th on the Habitat for Humanity Standings and has virtually secured a Tour card for next season.
– Chikkarangappa S. left the 2016 AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open in tears. He was first reserve for the tournament but had to leave for home as he could not get the final spot.
– He won the TAKE Solutions India Masters, an event on the Asian Development Tour, in 2014 and 2015.
– He will be looking to improve on his best result on the Asian Tour this season, a ninth-place finish at the TAKE Solutions Masters, here in Mauritius.
– Victor Perez is a two-time winner on the Challenge Tour.
– Justin Harding has never made the cut at his previous three AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open tournaments.
– He is enjoying one of his best seasons as a professional golfer. Currently, he is placed third on the Asian Tour Habitat for Humanity Standings and first on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
– He earned a spot at this year’s PGA Championship after breaking into the top-100 of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) following his Royal Cup victory.