PATTAYA: Gaganjeet Bhullar sparkled on the back nine of the Phoenix Gold Golf Course with six birdies and put together a round of 6-under 65, which lifted him from overnight tied 25 to tied third at 9-under 133 at the midway stage of the Queens Cup on Friday.
The eight-time winner on the Asian Tour, Bhullar, admitted that the course was playing good and easy and there were low scores to be had on the second day.
Korean-American Sihwan Kim closed with four straight birdies to grab a three-shot lead alongside playing partner Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand at the halfway stage.
The blazing finish saw Kim, the highest-ranked Asian Tour player in the field, sign for a bogey-free seven-under-par 64 and a 12-under-par 130 total to match the efforts of Jazz, who posted a 66.
Among other Indians, Rashid Khan (67) also made a big move up to tied 13th at 6-under 136, while Honey Baisoya, like Bhullar, also shot a 65 and moved to 4-under 138 alongside S Chikkarangappa (68) in tied 40th.
Khalin Joshi (69-70) and Himmat Rai (70-69) in tied 52 and Viraj Madappa (69-71) also made the cut. Jeev Milkha Singh (70-72) and Chiragh Kumar (72-70) missed the cut.
Bhullar, the top Indian, said, “My front nine, which is the back nine of the golf course, was very good today. I made six birdies there to turn in 29. It’s the first time I shot a 29 in any nine holes. I hit pretty much every fairway today. I probably missed just one fairway and two greens.”
He added, “Even though I shot a 65, I felt like I only shot one-under or two-under. I gave myself a lot of good looks on the greens but wasn’t able to take advantage of it. We still have 36 more holes to go so I’m looking forward.
“It was relatively easy today, to be honest. There are not too many tough pin positions today and you can actually make birdie on every hole.”
On his game in general, he said, “The key is putting this week. The course is not that long so it’s not that demanding. I think it’s going to be a putting competition this week. I putted well on my front nine. All my birdies were made from inside 10 feet.”
Overnight leader Poom Saksansin of Thailand battled to a 70 to share third place with countryman Sattaya Supupramai (66), Filipino Miguel Tabuena (66) and Bhullar (65) at 133.
The halfway cut was set at two-under-par 140 with a total of 76 players, including two local amateurs, progressing to the weekend rounds.