Chennai: Seasoned campaigner Mukesh Kumar of Mhow, stormed into the first round lead at the inaugural Express Exclusive presents Chennai Open Golf Championship, courtesy a phenomenal nine-under-61.
Mukesh brought all his experience into play to negotiate the tough course conditions at the Madras Gymkhana Club (MGC) Golf Course in Guindy to open up a handy four-shot lead on the first day.
Gurgaon-based Deepinder Singh Kullar was a distant second at five-under-65. He returned a bogey-free card.
Bengalurean Udayan Mane, one of the pre-tournament favourites, was in tied third at 67 along with Aman Raj, Sachin Baisoya, Gaurav Pratap Singh, Abhinav Lohan, Honey Baisoya and Feroze Singh Garewal.
The 51-year-old Mukesh Kumar, who has won five events at the MGC course in the past including the last two events held at the venue in 2008 and 2009, returned to his happy hunting ground with a bang.
The winner of over 100 titles on the Indian domestic circuit posted an astounding 11 birdies against just two bogeys on day one. Mukesh’s round featured a chip-in birdie on the eighth and he also almost holed it from 100 yards on the 10th where his ball lipped-out but still produced a birdie.
Mukesh’s ominous form with the irons led to him landing the ball within five feet on as many as nine occasions.
“I was rewarded for my accurate hitting and consistent putting today. It was windy out there in the morning but my experience of playing here for so many years helped me shoot this incredible score. I have some great memories of this course and know how to manage the conditions here,” said Mukesh.
He added, “My hunger to win pushes me to compete with all the youngsters even today. I’m still quite accurate with the irons and my putting skills haven’t deserted me yet, so I feel I can go on for a few more years.
“The key this week would be to stay away from the rough and tackle the wind especially in the mornings,” Mukesh said.
Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa, another pre-tournament favourite, was tied 10th at two-under-68.
C Arul was the highest-placed professional from Chennai as he shot an opening round of even-par-70 to be tied 26th.
Coimbatore’s Vashista S Pawar also shot a 70 to take a share of 26th place on Tuesday.
Rd 1 Leading Scores:
61: Mukesh Kumar
65: Deepinder Singh Kullar
67: Udayan Mane, Aman Raj, Feroz Singh Garewal, Honey Baisoya, Sachin Baisoya, Gaurav Pratap Singh, Abhinav Lohan