Kurt Kitayama takes 36-hole lead at Euro Tour's Mauritius Open

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Kurt Kitayama takes 36-hole lead at Euro Tour's Mauritius Open

Euro Tour

Kurt Kitayama takes 36-hole lead at Euro Tour's Mauritius Open

Kurt Kitayama is just 36 holes from giving himself the perfect start to his European Tour career. The California native takes a two-shot lead into the third round of the $1.1 million AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open.

UNLV graduate Kitayama returned a second successive 7-under 65 to move to the top of the leaderboard on 14 under. India’s S. Chikkarangappa is on 12 under after a 68. French players Victor Perez and Matthieu Pavon are three shots further back on 11 under.

Kitayama began with a birdie but immediately took two steps backwards with a double bogey seven at the par-5 second hole. He rebounded with four straight birdies.

Four birdies on the back nine saw the 25-year-old return in 32 shots to claim pole position heading into the weekend.

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

“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.”

The Chico, Calif., native took the fourth card at this month’s European Tour Qualifying School to earn his European Tour playing rights. He’s hoping to earn in the neighborhood of $350,000 this year to keep his card for 2020.

Victory in Mauritius would earn him a check for $180,000, but the win comes with a one-year exemption through to the end of 2020.

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