Chandigarh, March 27 2008: Fourteen-year-old amateur Ashbeer Saini emerged as the surprise package of round one of the Centurion Bank of Punjab Open. The Kapurthala lad shot a bogey-free 67 to grab a share of the first round lead along with seasoned campaigner Mukesh Kumar. Mukesh also shot a bogey-free 67. Vishal Singh was in third position, a stroke behind the joint leaders.
Ashbeer Saini, the round one joint leader, who was competing in a professional tournament for the first time, sank five birdies on his way to five under par 67 on Thursday. Saini made birdies on the second, seventh, 11th, 14th and 15th.“Even though I had a great day today I never thought I would be the joint leader. My putting stood out as I made 24 putts in all. I also hit the fairways and made lots of greens in regulation,” said Saini, the ninth class student who took to the game at the age of 10. He added, “I will try not to come under pressure tomorrow by playing to the best of my ability.”
Mukesh Kumar was the joint leader along with Saini as he also shot 67 in round one. Mukesh’s 67 saw him make birdies on the second, eighth, 13th, 14th and 16th.“My short game was really good today but my hitting was not up to the mark. I made some difficult putts today including a ten feet downhill putt on the eighth,” said Mukesh. He added, “The fairways and greens on this course are in very good shape and in order to get a good score, one must place the ball well off the tee.”
Vishal Singh shot 68 to be placed third at the end of round one. The professional from Jaipur sank birdies on the second, seventh, ninth, 13th and 14th and dropped a bogey on the eighth.Kapurthala’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, veteran Vijay Kumar and C Muniyappa from Bangalore fired rounds of 69 to be tied fourth.
Chandigarh golfers Harmeet Kahlon and Harendra Gupta returned scores of 71 to be tied 11th.Arjun Singh, the winner of the last PGTI event played at the Delhi Golf Club two weeks back, shot even par 72 for tied 21st position.Rahul Ganapathy, the winner of two events in the current PGTI season was tied 52nd after having returned a score of 75