Atwal stays ahead at AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Fri 01 Dec 2017

Atwal stays ahead at AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open


Mauritius, December 1: Arjun Atwal of India fired a one-under-par 70 to maintain his lead on a wind-swept day at the halfway stage of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Friday. 

The eight-time Asian Tour champion, who opened with a sizzling 62, totalled 10-under-par 132 to hold a one-shot advantage at the €1million (approximately US$1.07 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour.

Dylan Frittelli of South Africa eagled the last hole for a 66 to tie in second place alongside countryman Louis de Jager (67) and Laurie Canter (66) of England, at the Heritage Golf Club.

Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines stayed within striking distance following a 68 to share fifth place alongside Jose-Filipe Lima (66) of Portugal and South Africans Ockie Strydom (68), Justin Walters (66) and Oliver Bekker (67). They are two shots back of Atwal.

Atwal struggled to repeat his opening round magic but stayed in the hunt to end a three-year title drought after posting three birdies against two bogeys.

The Indian, who will captain Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup next year, almost chipped in for birdie on his final ninth hole before settling for par. He stayed composed on a blustery day as he heads into the weekend as the first player to reach double digits.

Frittelli drove the green on the par-four ninth hole and drained his 12-foot eagle putt to stay within a shot of Atwal. The South African enjoyed a solid 2016/2017 European Tour season where he won his first title and finished second thrice.

Tabuena made the turn in 35 and produced a stunning eagle on hole two when his two-iron from 236 yards landed three feet from the hole. He bogeyed the sixth hole but it was erased by his third birdie of the day on hole eight.

The halfway cut was set at one-under-par 141 with a total of 67 players making the weekend rounds.

Did you know?

  • After 36 holes, Atwal has only dropped two shots, both bogeys coming in the second round on holes 16 and three.
  • He totalled 28 putts today as compared to his 26 putts in the first round.
  • When Atwal made his debut at the Heritage Golf Club in 2015, he struggled to break par and missed the cut.
  • Atwal is enjoying a fine run at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open considering that he did not play a practice round after arriving late Wednesday evening after travelling for 16 hours via Dubai from Kuala Lumpur.
  • He holds eight Asian Tour titles but his last win came at the 2014 Dubai Open.
  • Frittelli continues his fine form in the new European Tour season. Last season he won his first title while finishing second thrice. He also finished tied fourth in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
  • The South African is the only player to eagle the par-four ninth hole after 36 holes. He also eagled the 18th hole in the opening round.
  • This is Tabuena’s second appearance at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open. His two day score of eight-under-par 134 is his best result in the tournament.
  • His eagle on the par-five second hole was his second in the event. He also eagled the par-five seventh hole in the opening round.
  • The 23-year-old Tabuena hopes to erase the heartbreak of missing out on a second Asian Tour title at the Resorts World Manila Masters three weeks ago where he bogeyed the last hole to miss the play-off.
  • Suttijet Kooratanapisan of Thailand produced the low round of the day when he returned with a 62 highlighted by two eagles. It was a huge turnaround for the Thai who opened with a 76. He ties the course record set by Atwal in the opening round.
  • The Order of Merit battle is far from over. The leader Gavin Green and third ranked Scott Hend missed the cut while S.S.P. Chawrasia, ranked fourth, shot a second round 67 to lie in tied 12th place.

Player Interviews:

Arjun Atwal (Ind) – Second round 70 (-1), Total 132 (-10)

I thought it was a lot more trickier. The wind wasn’t blowing at a consistent pace and it would gust and you would look like a fool out there. I was pleased with how I played.

The putter was definitely not as hot as the first day. I was hitting the ball just as good but it is tough to follow up a 62 with another low round. I’ll take this one-under.

I almost birdied the ninth. I misjudged the wind with my second shot and it came out just short. It was right on line as well. I would usually putt from the distance I was from the hole but decided to chip and it almost went it. It was a good way to finish.

I’m always calm. People who know me know that I don’t get fired up or lose my temper. I’m pretty much the same all the time. I’m really looking forward to the weekend.

(On recovering from the long distance travel) I feel as good as I can feel for my age. I’m feeling a bit sore but I’ll be okay tomorrow.

Dylan Frittelli (South Africa), 67, 66 (-9)

I’m very happy with the score. The score was good but I didn’t play too well today. Yesterday I played really solid throughout the day and today I had a few too many birdies in my opinion but salvaged it at the end of the round.

Birdie on six was really good and then seven; I hit on the green in two and decided to three-putt for par. That was silly but I just knuckled down, just try to forget about it right away. I hit a great shot into eight, nice five-footer for birdie and then, obviously, on number nine, I hit a pearler of a drive to kick in for the eagle. Yesterday I hit it probably 14 or 12 feet away as well. So, tee shot gets up nicely drawing into the wind. I felt comfortable there.  I just decided to give it a go. I mean, it’s 296 to the flag, I think, so three-wood’s landing just short, hit a really good little fade in there and worked out. Got a good bounce, I think.

I’m feeling confident. I mean, if I was within five shots of the leader today, I would still feel confident. There’s still a lot of golf left so I’m happy to be out there and competing with the guys but 36 holes is a lot of golf to play.

It’s probably two years of hard work and a lot of good specific work the last year. Had about six months just working on the mental side and the physical side, trying to get everything into top shape and I’ve done that pretty well throughout the year.

You know, this is week five in a row for me. I’m definitely on form now, I’ve played a lot of tournament golf in the last five weeks and it’s showing in my performance.

Louis de Jager (Rsa) – Second Round 67 (-4) Total 133 (-9)

I’m very pleased. I’ve played some really good golf over the last two days. Overall, I’ve hit the ball well and my short game was good today. It was a bit windier today, so it was tougher to hit the greens. My short game really kept me there and I rolled a few nice putts in at the end and that helped.

Length-wise, the course wasn’t much different this afternoon from yesterday morning. But you just had to think a bit more and the ball shapes a bit more because the winds are mostly crosswinds here. So you have to think a bit and use your imagination a bit more, but I’m pleased with how I handled myself out there today.

I was talking to one of my playing partners, who was remarking on the wind, and I told him that we were just coming off a six or seven-week stretch of coastal tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, so I was feeling quite comfortable in the wind. That definitely helps. It teaches you to stay calm and collected out there.

I’m feeling very good going into the weekend. I’m hitting the ball so well, I’m putting well, I’m chipping well, so it’s going to be a fun weekend.

Laurie Canter (Eng) – Second Round 66 (-5), Total 133 (-9)

Yesterday evet though we went out last it felt like we had a pretty good draw. It was windy to start with kind of played the back nine in a half club, one club wind. Today it was probably the other way round, probably finished in a good two, three club wind really.

I’ve played so much golf in the wind recently, like through Q School. It just feel like I’ve played a load of links golf and that kind of stuff, so I kind of felt quite comfortable out there for a lot of it.

If you can drive the ball half decent around here you’ll have a fair few opportunities to score and get the wedge in your hand a lot. I’m delighted with the two days really.

Playing in the wind is something that I would have said, maybe a year ago, that I need to do better. Some of the wily old foxes who play in Europe, I’ve played with them and they’re really good at that. Just making a score, getting flight on the ball, hitting a few different shots.

It’s something that I’ve worked on a bit with my coach to try to give myself a few more shots going into the green. I felt like I had one swing. I’m trying to knock the ball down a bit more, play a few more half shots, take the spin off. Maybe today and yesterday was the start of me feeling a bit more comfortable and taking that into a tournament.

I’m a pretty good mid-range putter. I fancy myself from 15, 20 feet. My short putting, I’m working hard on at the moment. That can improve a little still but the mid-range stuff is really good, I would back myself a lot from 15, 20 feet. I’m trying to free that up and hole a few putts, which is obviously crucial to posting a good score.

The weekend will be fun. I’ve played a couple of years now on the Tour, but in truth I’ve probably had a lot of 30th to 50th, let’s say. I’ve put myself in good position a few times going into the weekend. I think the position I’m in coming out of Qualifying School, I’ve got nothing to lose. We have to play really well and I’m going to need some really big finishes this year, the way our order of merit is going to pan out, to keep my card. That’s what I’m going to do. Certainly I’ve got nothing to lose this weekend. I’ll go and enjoy it, play as well as I can and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.

Miguel Tabuena (Phi) – Second Round 68 (-3), Total 134 (-8)

I’m pleased with the way I played today. I thought it would be less windy but it started blowing from the first hole. I knew anything under-par would be a great score. I played great but I need to work on my putting and I’ll be ready for tomorrow.

I personally think the back nine was the harder nine. I was glad to get it out of the way in two-under. It was gusty so I was second guessing the wind a lot. That cost me a few shots. I’m playing and striking the ball really well.

The eagle on the second hole gave me a lot of confidence. I hit a terrible shot on the first. On the next hole, I had the same shot but on the fairway. I told myself to hit it as hard as I could. I hit my two iron from 236 yards out and it landed three feet from the hole. I holed that for eagle.

I didn’t expect to birdie the eighth hole. It is one of the tougher par threes. My putter saved me there (holed a 25 foot birdie).

S.S.P. Chawrasia (Ind) – Second Round 67 (-4), Total 136 (-6)

It was a bogey-free round so I’m very happy. I started with a bogey-bogey yesterday then I fought back very nicely. It was a good comeback and today I just continued from where I left off.

There was no wind on the first five holes but it started to blow. I think it was blowing stronger than yesterday. I’m playing well and I’ve been working hard on my game. I can see that my game is getting better. That’s why I think I’ve had good results in the last few weeks except the final round in Hong Kong!

After playing a bad round, I need to delete it after 10 minutes. I don’t want to carry these bad memories with me. Obviously when you play bad, you feel bad so you don’t want to take that with you.

I’m enjoying my time here. There are a lot of Indian people and they can speak Hindi. I’m enjoying the beach and my room has a sea view!

Leading second round scores:

132 - Arjun ATWAL (IND) 62 70

133 - Dylan FRITTELLI (RSA) 67 66, Laurie CANTER (ENG) 67 66, Louis DE JAGER (RSA) 66 67

134 - Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 66 68, Jose-Filipe LIMA (POR) 68 66, Ockie STRYDOM (RSA) 66 68, Justin WALTERS (RSA) 68 66, Oliver BEKKER (RSA) 67 67

135 - Mark WILLIAMS (ZIM) 69 66, Joel STALTER (FRA) 67 68, Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) 67 68

136 - Anders HANSEN (DEN) 67 69, Ricardo GOUVEIA (POR) 68 68, Darren FICHARDT (RSA) 70 66, S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) 69 67, Romain LANGASQUE (FRA) 67 69

137 - Andrea PAVAN (ITA) 68 69, Jaco PRINSLOO (RSA) 69 68, Jarin TODD (USA) 68 69, Matthieu PAVON (FRA) 69 68, Adilson Da SILVA (BRA) 66 71, Pep ANGLES (ESP) 68 69, Jinho CHOI (KOR) 71 66

138 - Shiv KAPUR (IND) 69 69, George COETZEE (RSA) 67 71, Suttijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) 76 62, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 68 70, Marcel SCHNEIDER (GER) 72 66

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