Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat and Patna’s Aman Raj struck 65 and 67 respectively on the second day to emerge halfway leaders at the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Ahlawat and Raj took their two-day total to 12-under-132 to grab a one-stroke lead at the Eagleton Golf Resort. Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi carded the day’s best score of eight-under-64 to lie third at 11-under-133 at the second event of the 2020 TATA Steel PGTI season.

Shubhankar Sharma, the pre-tournament favourite and defending champion, followed up his first round 73 with a steady 71 to occupy tied 35th place at even-par-144. The cut fell at one-over-145 with 50 professionals advancing to the last two rounds.

Ahlawat (67-65), a 10th tee starter, was rewarded for his accuracy off the tee as he collected five birdies on the back-nine including four on the trot from the 14th to the 17th. He moved to an imposing eight-under for the day with three more birdies between the first and the fifth including a chip-in on the third.

The lanky Ahlawat stumbled towards the end with bogeys on the sixth and ninth where he missed chip-putts in exchange for a birdie on the seventh.

Raj (65-67), the first-round leader, managed to stay on top of the leaderboard for the second day running with a round that featured eight birdies and three bogeys. His round was highlighted by his precise approach shots on the 11th and 13th that landed within a couple of feet of the pin to set up birdies.

Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh shot the day’s best 64 to be tied fourth at 10-under-134 along with Delhi’s Himmat Rai who fired an error-free 66.

Pune’s Udayan Mane, who won PGTI’s last two events, was a further stroke back in tied sixth. Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa shared ninth place at eight-under-136. Bengaluru-based Viraj Madappa, the joint runner-up in Hyderabad last week, missed the cut by one shot after firing a 72 in the second round that took his total to two-over-146. Indian hockey legend Dilip Tirkey too missed the cut as he totalled 18-over-162.