Kolkata: Panchkula’s Shubhankar Sharma and Digvijay Singh of Gurgaon got off to flying starts with scores of seven-under-63 in round one of the PGTI Players Championship presented by Tollygunge Club. The duo thus ended day one three shots ahead of the rest.
The three players in joint third place at four-under-66 were Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj, Delhi’s Honey Baisoya and Chandigarh-based teenage amateur Karandeep Kochhar.
Shubhankar Sharma, a 10th tee starter, didn’t have the greatest start to the week as he received a one-stroke penalty on the 10th after having inadvertently moved the ball while trying to remove pebbles around it before executing his second shot.
The resultant bogey on the 10th, however, did not prove to be a dampener for the 20-year-old as he rallied with an eagle-birdie-birdie run from the 13th through the 15th. Sharma, placed second in the Rolex Ranking thanks to his two wins on the PGTI earlier this year, chipped-in on the 13th and almost holed out for another eagle from 50 yards out on the 15th.
Shubhankar added four more birdies on the front-nine to end the day with a healthy seven-under.
Shubhankar said, “With just three events left for me in the current Asian Tour season, I need to get back in top gear if I have to get into the top-60 in Asia and retain my card for the next season. This week’s event gives me a great opportunity to raise my game and get in the right frame of mind before I head back to the Asian Tour.
“I’m playing my first ever professional event at Tollygunge Club this week and I really enjoyed the conditions out there. The course is in great shape with the fairways and greens playing really well.
“I fought back well after the opening bogey. The eagle on the 13th came at the right time as it helped me negate the effect of the bogey in the early stages of the round. I played some excellent wedge shots especially the chip-in on the 13th and another on the 15th where I almost holed it from 50 yards,” added Shubhankar.
The seasoned Digvijay Singh has had a patchy season so far not having posted a single top-10 on the PGTI this year. However, Digvijay, a winner on the Asian Tour, made a promising start at Tollygunge, as he put together an error-free 63 on Wednesday to join Shubhankar at the top of the leaderboard.
In an interesting incident, a referee’s caution for slow play seemed to have inspired Digvijay to fire a flurry of birdies in the closing stages of his round.
“My three-ball was cautioned by the referee for slow play as I was about to hit my approach on the 16th. The warning turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I kept hitting it close from there on and as a result ended up with birdies on the last four holes,” said Digvijay.
“I hit it all within 10 feet today and didn’t leave myself any long putts. I also had a terrific par-save on the third where I hit my tee shot into the hazard.
He added, “The key this week would be to find maximum fairways off the tees. The greens are rolling well here at Tollygunge so it would be about setting up birdie opportunities with some good hitting.”
Divyanshu Bajaj was the highest-placed Kolkata golfer on day one. He mixed five birdies with a bogey in his round of 66 that placed him joint third along with Honey Baisoya, the runner-up in Chennai last month, and amateur Karandeep Kochhar.
Kolkata’s Shankar Das and Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi were among the nine golfers bunched together in tied sixth place at three-under-67.