College roommates Perez and Green are 1-2; Bhullar survives cut, Sharma misses

Kaec (Saudi Arabia), Jan 31 (PTI) Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar waged a spirited battle in windy conditions to survive the cut on the line while compatriot Shubhankar Sharma missed out in the the Saudi International on Friday.

College roommates Victor Perez of France and Malaysia's Gavin Green occupied the top two spots at the halfway mark.

Perez added a second straight 65 to get to double digits at 10-under just as Green had finished three holes. Three hours later, he carded 67 to get to 9-under and now old college friends will play in the last group on Saturday.

Bhullar, after 74 on first day, played steady for 3-under 67 to get to one-over and got in at T-65. He had to wait till almost the end, as a birdie on 18th by last week's runner-up in Dubai, Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa could have knocked out 10 players including him, Ernie Els, Li Haotong and Justin Harding.

Bhullar, who clawed his way back to one-over for the tournament, fell to 2-over with a bogey on sixth, his 15th hole. He repaired the damage on seventh with a birdie and it helped him make it.

'I need to make good use of this over the weekend,' said Bhullar, who was T-34 last year.

However, Shubhankar, 2-under in first round, had a rough day with hardly any putts falling. He ended with 75 for a 3-over total of and missed the cut by two. He had two doubles, four bogeys and just three birdies.

'Nothing worked today. Putting let me down,' said Sharma, who had a four-putt besides going into water once.

There was drama as third placed Graeme McDowell (64-68), incurred a 'bad time' for slow play on fifth soon after being interviewed on the fairway. Earlier he was put on 'monitoring' on fourth. He loses a shot if he gets a second bad time.

Green and Perez, teammates and roommates at the University of New Mexico for four years, were excited at getting a chance to play together in the lead pairing.

Green said, 'This really will be fun and we will catch up a lot, too. Maybe I will pick his brains, too, he has been playing so well.' Soon after his round, Perez, who had his breakthrough win at Dunhill Links last year, said it would be fun play with Green in the lead pairing. A little later his wish was granted. PTI Corr PDS PDS PDS