Himmat to play lead group in shortened Iskandar Johor Open

Saturday, October 24, 2009

JOHOR BAHRU - Himmat Rai had a full day’s rest, and stayed as the leader of the $1 million Iskandar Johor Open golf Saturday. The tournament, which has been reduced to three rounds because of inclement weather, will now see the 22-year-old Indian go out Sunday with Asian golfing legend K.J. Choi, who trails him by one shot.

Himmat, who had finished his second round Friday, continues to hold on to his lead with his two-day total of 13-under-par 131 at the Royal Johor Country Club.

The full field Asian Tour tournament heads into the third and final round Sunday with the event being pruned to a 54-hole stroke play tournament.

Asian Tour honorary member K.J. Choi of Korea and Australias Darren Beck held on to their tied second positions on 132 while Chinese Taipeis Chang Tse-peng is also among the mix in fourth position on 133.

Mars Pucay of the Philippines will be aiming for a title assault after closing in on Indian leader Himmat Rai when he posted a superb second round seven-under-par 65.

Pucay, aiming for his maiden Asian Tour win, closed in on Himmat when he added a 65 to his opening 69 to lie in tied fifth position alongside Thailands Chapchai Nirat on 134.

Eight of the 17 Indians missed the cut which came at two-under.

Indias next best after Himmat was Rahil Gangjee (67) as he moved up to tied eighth at eight-under for two rounds. Anirban Lahiri, despite a double bogey, shot a 69 and was tied 14th at six-under. Also tied 14th at six under was Gaganjeet Bhullar (69).

Ashok Kumar and S.S.P. Chowrasia were tied 22nd at five-under, Jyoti Randhawa was tied 30th at four-under, C. Muniyappa was tied 42nd at three-under and Digvijay Singh was tied 53rd at two-under which was the cut line.

Defending champion Retief Goosen of South Africa failed to make an impact and conceded that he was out of the title race after shooting a second round 70 to lie in tied 22nd on 139.

With a total of 67 players making the final round, the Indians missing the cut were Vikrant Chopra, Chiragh Kumar, Amandeep Johl, Arjun Singh, Manav Jaini and Gaurav Ghei. Rahul Ganapathy and Karanjit Sandhu retired.

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