India's Abhishek Jha continued his good form at the inaugural India Masters by matching his opening day's effort with another six-under-par 66 to take the second round lead at the Eagleton Golf Resort here Thursday.
Sweden's Nils Floren also set the stage alight by powering his way to the summit with a sensational 62 to trail Jha by one shot at the halfway stage of the first Asian Development Tour (ADT) event in India. Overnight leader S. Chikkarangappa of India lurked close behind the Swede by posting a 70 to secure third place at the $70,000 event.
Starting the day in third place, Jha quickly used his intimate knowledge of his home course to move two spots up to lead the chasing pack with his two-day total of 12-under-par 132.
An opening birdie on the par-four first followed by another birdie on four and an eagle-three on seven got Jha on his way in his opening front-nine. The Indian then marked his card with another red number on 10 before signing off with his final birdie on 17.
"There's so much positive energy inside me now. I started with an eagle yesterday and today it was a birdie that got me going. It helps when you are playing on your home course too," said the 27-year-old.
This will be the first time Jha is taking the lead heading into the final 36 holes and he is looking forward to tighten his grip.
Playing at the Eagleton Golf Resort for the first time, Floren admitted he was lucky to have put himself into a commanding position heading into the final two rounds.
The Swede was a man on fire as he reached the turn quickly in five-under after firing three birdies and an eagle-two on the par-four six. He continued his amazing run with five more birdies to set himself nicely for his maiden ADT win.
"This is my first time playing on this golf course and I guess I've been lucky. Everything went my way and my putter was really hot. I managed to sink so many good putts which is wonderful," he said.
Meanwhile Chikka, a three-time winner on the domestic circuit, is determined to put up a good show in memory of his grandfather who passed away last week.
"It's been an emotional time for me since I lost my grandfather last week. But my family encouraged me to focus on my game and do what he would have liked me to do. I know he's watching over me from above and I really want to make him proud this week," said Chikka, who cut his golfing teeth at the Eagleton course.
Chikka could have held on to his lead if not for a triple-bogey seven on the ninth hole where his shot got stuck in the tree, forcing him to take penalty drop.
132 - Abhishek Jha (IND) 66-66
133 - Nils Floren (SWE) 71-62
134 - Chikka S. (IND) 64-70
136 - Khalin Joshi (IND) 67-69; Deepinder Singh Kullar (IND) 67-69
137 - C. Muniyappa (IND) 69-68; Niall Turner (IRL) 67-70
138 - M. Dharma (IND) 67-71; Pijit Petchkasem (THA) 65-73
139 - R. Murthy (IND) 71-68; Lindsay Ryenolds (CAN) 70-69; Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 72-67.
142 - S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND) 74-68.