Kitayama seizes the halfway lead at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

Fri 30 Nov 2018

Kitayama seizes the halfway lead at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open

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Beau Champ, Mauritius, November 30: 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.

Chikkarangappa S. of India

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. 

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.

Kurt Kitayama (Usa) – Second round 65 (-7), total 130 (-14)

I started with a birdie and then just had a little blunder on two. I got back on track straight right after, so it was nice to bounce back after a double.

It was just a little pitching wedge on 17, hit it to about five or six feet and made that putt. I hit a good drive on 18, so that was short iron in and a two putt. Those were two stress-free birdies.

I'm driving it well which is making it a lot easier. It's a pretty big advantage to be able to hit shorter irons in. I'm feeling pretty comfortable. I'll stay the same over the weekend, still be aggressive. It's gone well so far so don't want to switch things up too much.

I'm just focusing on this little stretch to end 2018 and then regroup at the end of the year and see what I'm thinking about for the future. It's just trusting the process. Coming from the end of the Web.com season and transitioning to the Asian Tour. I've been making some changes, it's a whole process and it's starting to pay off. 

Chikkarangappa S. (Ind) – Second round 68 (-4), total 132 (-12)

I started the round well; a par followed by a birdie. I just got a bit of bad luck on holes 14 and 15, where my ball got plugged in the bunker. I told myself to hit more fairways and give myself birdie opportunities, and that was what I did from hole one. 

I birdied the first hole and made birdies until hole five. That was an important run for me to get back to where I was yesterday.  I putted really well. Made some solid putts on four and five. There were some tough lines and I was able to read them. Overall, it was a good front nine (holes one to nine).

It was pretty warm out there but you’re on the ocean side, the cool breeze would come in but if you’re in the middle of the course, it can get hotter but I guess, I’m used to it. I’ve just got to hydrate myself.

I’m looking at making my card look red. That’s the goal for this week.

Previously, I didn’t have that confidence in my golf swing, so I had to make adjustments. I managed to do that. I was also thinking too much and I didn’t swing the way I wanted. I tweaked my swing about seven weeks back and now I feel solid about it. The last time I felt like this was about one and a half years back at the Macao Open. Since then, I’ve struggled. Looking forward, I’ve got to stay patient and just keep working on my game.

Victor Perez (Fra) – Second round 69 (-3), total 133 (-11)

I thought it was quite nice to bounce back after the bogey at the second. Going off at 7 am with no wind and really ideal conditions and the two par fives at the second and the fourth, you're hoping to get off to a good start. 

I wasn't able to do that, but I was able to grind through it, stay patient, make some pars. The birdies at nine and ten got the round going and then two more birdies on the back nine and especially the birdie on nine was nice to finish with.

It was definitely nice to back up the performance of yesterday with another solid round. Only one dropped shot early which could have been avoided but I don't think I was really in trouble, except at the 11th where I could have dropped a shot and I was able to make a nice par save. Definitely pleased moving into the weekend.

I feel like the conditions are ideal. It's not windy, it's warm, the ball is travelling quite far. It helps some of those missed shots a little bit to still carry and get the distance.

You're trying to give yourself some opportunities but I think some of the missed shots are penalised less than if it was a little bit worse condition.

Justin Harding (Rsa) – Second round 69 (-3), total 136 (-8)

It was one of those days when I was coming out and swinging badly. I didn’t hit it very good for the first 10 holes or so. Amazingly, I missed fairways and these fairways are hard to miss at times. But, I’m happy with the result. I said to my caddy that it has been a bigger grind than what I expected at the start of the day. I made a few of birdies in the back nine, and I played my way back to the tournament.

Chipped from the back on the green on hole two, which lipped out. That was a good one. I hit it close, about 10 feet on three. I hit a driver off the deck on four that went to the green. I felt that I should be more under par than I should have been.

Silly three putt on seven. The greens were a little slower compared to yesterday. I don’t like three-putting, it annoys me badly. I had a birdie on the ninth and now I can enjoy lunch.

It’s a good day. I am happy to grind out a sub 70. I’m still in the tournament, doing what I’ve been doing all season long. 

This is my first cut made out of four tournaments! It’s a bonus. This time, I can enjoy the tournament on the golf course and not so much on the beach.

For full results, click here.

Ends.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics), Habitat for Humanity (Official Sustainable Development Partner), ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), Titleist and FootJoy (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Wall Street Journal (Official International Media Partner) and Sentosa in Singapore which is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.