Five players shared the lead on the opening day of the season-ending PGTI McLeod Russel championship here at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club on Thursday. The first day’s action turned out to be a high scoring affair as the players negotiated tough scoring conditions.
Bengaluru’s S. Chikkarangappa, local star Rahil Gangjee, Gurgaon-based Jyoti Randhawa, Australian Kunal Bhasin and N. Thangaraja of Sri Lanka shot scores of four-under-68 to have the best aggregate of the day, in the 1.5 crore prize-money event.
Chikkarangappa, currently second in the PGTI ranking and about Rs. 8.5 lakh behind leader Mukesh Kumar of Mhow, began his campaign on a promising note with an eagle and four birdies against two bogeys. Chikkarangappa produced a massive drive on the 15th followed by an eight feet conversion to help himself to an eagle. He also had two early birdies on second and third holes and appeared to be heading for the sole lead with a 15-feet birdie conversion on the 16th hole but dropped a shot in the last hole unable to negotiate the trees.
Rahil Gangjee too negotiated the tough scoring conditions well with five birdies and a bogey. His round featured four birdie conversions from 10 to 15 feet and a couple of brilliant par-saves. Jyoti Randhawa, one of the most successful golfers of the country, made good progress scoring six birdies and two bogeys. He was one-under at the 11th hole but recovered quite well in the next seven picking up three more shots.
N Thangaraja, joined the leaders producing some accurate iron play and set up three tap-in birdies on the front-nine for himself. He narrowly missed a hole-in-one on the second hole but later missed half a dozen short putts that stopped him from ending with an even better score. Kunal Bhasin made it to the top sinking some long putts on the back-nine to reach his 68.
There was a pack of 10 golfers tied at two-under-70 chasing the leaders. This included former champions and Kolkatans Shankar Das and S.S.P. Chawrasia, and the PGTI ranking leader Mukesh Kumar.