Cochin Masters: Mukesh falters; Shivendra, Om Prakash share lead

Delhi’s Shivendra Singh Sisodia – who earned his full card from last month’s PGTI Qualifying School – shook off swirling winds in the second phase and moved to the top of the pack after the first day, a spot he shared with Om Prakash Chouhan.

Delhi's Shivendra Singh Sisodia who emerged as joint leader after the opening day of the CIAL Cochin Masters, the opening round of the PGTI National Series, at Nedumbassery on Wednesday.   -  Special Arrangement

Mukesh Kumar, the defending champion and the man with over a hundred titles under his belt, had a mediocre day in the CIAL Cochin Masters, the opening round of the PGTI National series, which began at Nedumbassery on Wednesday.

While the 50-year-old Mukesh slipped to the 20th spot after a one-over-73 at the CIAL Golf Club, Delhi’s Shivendra Singh Sisodia – who earned his full card from last month’s PGTI Qualifying School – shook off swirling winds in the second phase and moved to the top of the pack after the first day, a spot he shared with Om Prakash Chouhan.

Both Om Prakash, from Mhow, and Shivendra fired scores of four-under-68 in the Rs 60 lakh event while Bengaluru’s seasoned C. Muniyappa and Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu were just a stroke behind.

Shivendra, a 10th tee starter, was impressive in the back nine with birdies on the 11th, 15th, 16th and the 18th. And though he had a tough time on the front nine with two bogeys, the 26-year-old produced three birdies to move to the top.

“My bunker shots and putting were outstanding today. I played much better in the first half on the back-nine,” said the Delhi player. “However, the swirling wind affected my performance on the front-nine.”

Bigger challenge

Meanwhile Om Prakash, a winner of four titles who joined Shivendra in the lead, said the CIAL course was proving to be a bigger challenge this year.

“The course is playing tougher and longer this year and the professionals will have their work cut out. The rough and trees on either side of the fairways have grown and that will have an impact on the scores,” he said.

“I did really well with the wedges today and the chip-in on the 18th was the highlight of the day.”

Top scores (round 1, par-72 course): 68: Om Prakash Chouhan & Shivendra Singh Sisodia. 69: Ajeetesh Sandhu & C. Muniyappa. 70: Feroz Ali Mollah, Digvijay Singh, Kapil Kumar & Sudhir Sharma.