Poom Saksansin takes early lead

Poom Saksansin of Thailand upstaged his Indian colleagues on the opening day of the TAKE Solutions Masters, firing a seven-under-64 to rise to the top of the leaderboard.

Poom Saksansin of Thailand upstaged his Indian colleagues on the opening day of the TAKE Solutions Masters, firing a seven-under-64 to rise to the top of the leaderboard.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

 

Poom Saksansin of Thailand upstaged his Indian colleagues on the opening day of the TAKE Solutions Masters, firing a seven-under-64 to rise to the top of the leaderboard. The fresh-faced 24-year-old thrived in slightly windy conditions at the KGA course to finish the opening round with a two-shot advantage over the pair of Viraj Madappa and Divyanshu Bajaj.

The trio of Syed Saqib Ahmed, Carlos Pigem and Sujjan Singh was one stroke further behind in fourth. Local boys S. Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi were in a five-way tie for seventh (68) while pre-tournament favourite S.S.P. Chawrasia was joint twelfth, five shots off the lead.

“It was a sideways wind, so it was easy to play,” Saksansin said afterwards. “I just aimed five yards off the fairway and then bent it. Overall it was a good round. My driver and irons were good but I missed some putts.”

Saksansin, who won his first Asian Tour title at the Indonesian Masters last year, sank seven birdies, the last of which came on his final hole, where he chipped in from 10 yards behind the green. His blemish-free card was very nearly blotted when he read the wrong page of his yardage book on the par-three eighth and went over the green. But he was able to save par.

Madappa's official home course may be Tollygunge, but to him the KGA is a familiar place. The 19-year-old now attends college in Bengaluru, having spent two previous years here as a student. He made the most of that knowledge, in what is his first Asian Tour event as a professional, returning a card of five-under-66 in the first round. Madappa made three birdies, and an eagle on the par-five 11th, when he drained a putt from 15 feet.

Bajaj, who shared second spot with Madappa, called this his best round of the season. "Rahil Gangjee shared some tips with me during our practice round on Tuesday, and that helped me," the Kolkata golfer said.

Shiv Kapur (70) sat in 26th while Jeev Milkha Singh shot eight-over-79 to tie for 141st.

The scores (top 10 after 18 holes): 64: Poom Saksansin (Tha); 66: Viraj Madappa (Ind), Divyanshu Bajaj (Ind); 67: Syed Saqib Ahmed (Ind), Carlos Pigem (Esp), Sujjan Singh (Ind); 68: Scott Barr (Aus), S. Chikkarangappa (Ind), Todd Sinnott (Aus), Khalin Joshi (Ind), O.P. Chouhan (Ind).

Chawrasia's dream comes true

S.S.P. Chawrasia may not have been in red hot form on the opening day of the TAKE Solutions Masters here but the Kolkata golfer was a delighted man in the evening after it was announced that he had been recommended for the Arjuna Award. "It was my dream to get the Arjuna Award. It’s recognition for all that I have done and I want to do more. I want to bring more titles and also teach youngsters in the coming years. It has been a long road for me and I am always willing to contribute to Indian golf in any manner. Right now my focus is on the tournament and it would be nice to celebrate the news of the Arjuna Award with a win here," he said.