McLeod Russel Tour C’ship: Shubhankar scores six-under, takes lead

Fresh from winning Jo’burg Open a few days ago, Shubhankar continued his good form with consistently good hitting through the day.

Shubhankar Sharma tees off on Thursday at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club. Photo: Special Arrangement

Shubhankar Sharma lived up to the billing of being one of the top contenders for the title as he took the lead on the opening round, scoring a six-under-66, in the McLeod Russel Tour Championship here at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Thursday.

Fresh from winning the European Tour Jo’burg Open barely 10 days ago, Shubhankar, who hails from Chandigarh, showed his merit in abundance with consistently good hitting through the day.

Rahil Gangjee of Bengaluru and Rashid Khan of Delhi also got off to impressive starts, netting five-under-67 each to share second spot at the end of the day. The season-ending tournament of PGTI thus got off to an interesting start, with a host of notable names lining up in the next few positions.

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Shubhankar impressed with his accurate hitting that kept him in the lead for most of the day. He sank seven birdies while his longest putt of the day, a 30-footer, resulted in a birdie on the 10th. He followed that up with another birdie on the 11th to move to six-under. He then made pars all the way till the end and finished with a nice chip-putt to save par on the 18th.

‘Confidence high’

“I could not have asked for a better start. I was four-under after nine and six-under after 11 holes. I have been striking well recently and the confidence is high after two good weeks in Asia,” Shubhankar said after finishing the day. Shubhankar could have had an even better score had he not committed a bogey in the second hole.

Rahil Gangjee, a former golfer from the city and now settled in Bengaluru, fired a bogey-free 67 to make a good start. Having retained his Asian Tour card by a narrow margin after finishing 60th in the Order of Merit last week, Gangjee was one of the best performers of the day, sinking two 25-footers for birdies along with a 20-footer for par on the 13th.

Rashid Khan, who is the joint course-record holder at RCGC for scoring 63 in the 2014 edition of the tournament, mixed six birdies with a bogey for his 67. Local favourite S. S. P. Chawrasia carded a 71 to be tied 12th while Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu was a further shot back in tied 20th.