Bengaluru: Bengaluru’s M Dharma blasted a seven-under-65 to take the opening round lead at the PGTI Eagleburg Masters at Eagleton – The Golf Resort on Tuesday. Kolkata’s Shankar Das was on the leader’s tail with a score of six-under-66.
The Bengaluru duo of Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi and Delhi’s Honey Baisoya were bunched together in tied third at five-under-67.
M Dharma, a winner on the PGTI back in 2013, stamped his authority on day one with an imposing seven-under-65. Dharma, currently lying seventh in the Rolex Ranking, had a productive front-nine where he made four birdies and a bogey. The bogey on the 10th didn’t seem to unsettle the 30-year-old as he roared back with five straight birdies from the 11th to the 15th.
Dharma, who finished joint runner-up in the opening event of the season, narrowly missed out on eagle opportunities on two occasions, the fourth and 15th, where his chip shots stopped just short of the hole.
Dharma attributed his solid first round effort to the hard yards he put in over the last three weeks at Eagleton with focus on his short-game.
Dharma said, “I was very good around the greens today. I made two brilliant par saves from the bunker. I believe the hard work that I have recently put into my short-game, is paying off now.
“Since my maiden win in 2013, my hitting kept improving, but on the other hand, I just lost the measure of my short-game. The problem affected my game for the last two years.
“In order to sort out my game, my friend Chikkarangappa, who is also my roommate on the tour, convinced me to work on my weaknesses along with him. He gave me a lot of valuable inputs as both of us put in long hours of practice at Eagleton in the run-up to this event.
“The best thing about being around Chikka is that he never talks about the negatives after a particular round. He always focuses on the positive aspects and moves on. This approach of Chikka’s, has also helped me grow in confidence.”
Former Rolex Ranking champion Shankar Das managed to get in just a few days of practice prior to the PGTI Eagleburg Masters as he recovered from a two-week layoff due to fever. However, armed with a new set of irons, the six-time winner on the PGTI, made waves in the opening round at Eagleton, thanks to seven birdies and a bogey.
Shankar said, “It was a fantastic start to the week as I landed it within a foot of the pin on four occasions. My wedge-play was outstanding. I ended the day with one of the most amazing shots I’ve ever hit. I couldn’t sight the 18th green from the rough but played a magnificent draw around the trees that stopped a foot from the flag.”
Reigning Rolex Ranking champion Chikkarangappa fired an error-free 65 at his home course to end the day in tied third. Fellow Bengalurean Khalin Joshi and Delhi’s Honey Baisoya shared the third spot with Chikka.
Rahil Gangjee and Udayan Mane, two more Bengaluru-based professionals, were in tied sixth at four-under-68 along with Vipin Raghuvanshi of Mhow.
Arjun Sharma of Greater Noida made a hole-in-one on the eighth during his round of one-under-71. He was placed tied 22nd.