Kochi: Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Delhi’s Shivendra Singh Sisodia shared the spoils in round one of the PGTI’s season opener, the CIAL Cochin Masters presented by PGTI. Chouhan and Sisodia fired scores of four-under-68 at the Rs. 60 lakh event being played at the CIAL Golf Club in Kochi. The duo was one stroke ahead of Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa and Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu.
Om Prakash Chouhan, a winner of four titles, was off to a splendid start as he landed his approach within three feet on his opening hole, the 10th, for a relatively easy birdie. Chouhan then failed to recover from the bunker on the 14th and dropped a stroke. The Madhya Pradesh lad produced a couple of good chip shots on the 16th and 18th, the latter for a chip-in, to make the turn at two-under.
Om Prakash, ranked ninth in the Rolex Ranking in 2015, faltered with a bogey on the second after finding the rough but came roaring back with birdie conversions from a distance of five to 10 feet on the fourth, sixth and ninth.
“I’m glad to have started the season on a positive note. I enjoyed a good 2015 season as I was very consistent and finished inside the top-10 of the Rolex Ranking. I worked very hard in the one month break between the two seasons to tune up my game further. Hopefully, all that hard work will be reflected in my scores in the coming months,” said the 29-year-old Chouhan.
He added, “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.
“I did really well with the wedges today and the chip-in on the 18th was the highlight of the day.”
Shivendra Singh Sisodia, who earned his full card after finishing 29th in the PGTI Qualifying School last month, shared the honours on day one with Chouhan. Sisodia made seven birdies against three bogeys.
Shivendra, a 10th tee starter, landed his wedges within five feet for birdies on the 11th, 15th and 16th. He drained a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th. His lone bogey on the back-nine came on the 14th where he found the hazard.
Sisodia had a tougher time on the front-nine where he made three birdies and two bogeys. He sank a second consecutive 15-feet birdie putt on the first and made tap-in birdies on the second and eighth. The 26-year-old, who secured his PGTI card for the second year in succession, also missed two chip-putts for bogeys on the seventh and ninth.
Sisodia said, “My bunker shots and putting were outstanding today. I played much better in the first half on the back-nine. However, the swirling wind affected my performance on the front-nine.”
He added, “My good performance at the Q School this year has given me the much needed confidence for the 2016 season.”
Former Indian Open champion C Muniyappa made three tap-in birdies during his bogey-free round of three-under-69 to be tied third. Ajeetesh Sandhu also took a share of the third spot as his round featured five birdies and two bogeys.
Gurgaon-based Digvijay Singh, Feroz Ali Mollah of Kolkata, Meerut’s Sudhir Sharma and Delhi’s Kapil Kumar were joint fifth at two-under-70.
Defending champion Mukesh Kumar of Mhow occupied tied 20th place at one-over-73.