Barinder Saluja, Chandigarh,31st Aug. : Ashok Kumar, Gaurav Pratap Singh and Feroz Ali Mollah produced identical scores of four under 68 to hold the joint lead after round one of the PGTI Players Championship presented by Chandigarh Golf Club. Harendra Gupta and Sandeep Syal are one stroke behind the leaders in joint fourth position.
Delhi’s Ashok Kumar, a seven-time winner on the Aircel-PGTI, was even par after 12 holes as he had birdied the fourth and bogeyed the 12th. He then unleashed a 340-yard drive on the par five 13th that helped him set up an eagle. The Delhi golfer made successive birdies on the 16th and 17th to close the day at four under. He drove the green on the par four 17th and two-putted from 30 feet for birdie.
Ashok, who has never won at the Chandigarh Golf Club, is eager to set the record straight this time around.
Ashok said, “I’m really keen to win at the Chandigarh Golf Club. I have been beaten in a few playoffs at this venue in the past and I want to make up for all those losses during this week. I’m in the process of recovering from a wrist injury that kept me out of action for the last three months and today’s round of 68 provided me the ideal start for the second half of the season.”
He added, “My driving was fantastic today and I also holed some decent putts including one from 15 feet for birdie on the 16th.”
Gaurav Pratap Singh of Noida, a winner on the Aircel-PGTI last season, fired five birdies against a lone bogey to be at the top of the leaderboard. The 26-year-old, who made two cuts out of four starts in his first season on the Asian Tour this year, putted consistently and made a great par save on the 16th on day one.
“This is a great start for me considering that I have had an ordinary season so far. This is the best I have played since I sustained an injury towards the end of last year. I now feel that I’m getting back into form,” said Gaurav.
Feroz Ali Mollah of Kolkata also ended the day as the joint leader as he came up with five birdies and a bogey in his opening round. The former Indian Open champion, who has never won on the Aircel-PGTI, hit it close through the day.
Feroz said, “I hit it close today, especially on the 10th where I landed it within four feet from 100 yards out. I hope to carry on this form and post a good finish this week.”
Harendra Gupta was the highest placed among the Chandigarh golfers on Tuesday. He returned a 69 to be tied fourth along with Sandeep Syal of Chennai.
Mukesh Kumar, Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh, Raju Ali Mollah and Shankar Das are a further stroke back in tied sixth.Rahil Gangjee, one of the pre-tournament favourites, is tied 15th at even par 72 while Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh lies tied 70th at five over 77.