M. Dharma of Bengaluru produced a high quality fare including a seven-under-64 to lead the table in the opening round of the Golconda Masters golf championship, promoted by Telangana Tourism, at the Golconda HGA Course here on Thursday.
N. Thangaraja of Sri Lanka, Shankar Das of Kolkata and Angad Cheema of Panchkula were joint-second with scores of six-under-65.
Dharma, who won two titles and finished fifth in the PGTI order of Merit last year, notched up an error-free card of seven-under on to get early advantage. He tapped-in for his first birdie on the third before picking up two more shots on the sixth and 10th, both par-5s.
Then, the 31-year-old had his best stretch of the day with the putter as he sank four consecutive birdies from 14th to 17th - all from a range of 12 to 25 feet.
“My game really started picking up from the Bengaluru Open onwards last year. I posted a score of 13-under that week to finish inside the top-6. I’ve not looked back since then,” Dharma said later. “My victory in Mumbai last year was a part of this gradual progression. I just enjoyed myself today and capitalized on the par-5s, making birdies on three of them,” he said.
N. Thangaraja braved an injured knee to produce seven birdies against a lone bogey in the first round. Though not at his best, he still struck it out well enough to set up five short birdie putts which he went on to convert. He also chipped-in for birdie on the 11th after landing his tee shot over the green.
“I was just a little disappointed to miss two eagle opportunities today. The first was a 15-footer that lipped out on the 15th and the second was a five-footer that missed the mark on the eighth,” he said.
Former winner on the PGTI Angad Cheema’s flawless 65 placed him tied second with an all four par-5s, making a 12-feet eagle conversion on the 17th and birdies on the 10th, sixth and eighth.
PGTI Order of Merit leader Syed Saqib Ahmed of Bengaluru shot a one-under-70 to be tied 31st while former champion Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh was tied 71st after firing a two-over-73.
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