Shubhankar resumes pursuit of Rolex Ranking crown with dazzling opening round 63 at CG Open

Shubhankar Sharma of IndiaMumbai: Shubhankar Sharma of Panchkula, currently third in the Rolex Ranking, resumed his pursuit for the no. 1 spot on the PGTI with a dazzling seven-under-63 at the CG Open 2016 that gave him the first round lead.

Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa and Delhi’s Kapil Kumar were a stroke off the lead in tied second place at the Rs. 1 crore event being played at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC).

Sri Lankan K Prabagaran also hogged the limelight in round one as a result of a rare albatross on the 18th. He closed the day with an even-par-70 to be placed tied 42nd.

Shubhankar Sharma, who recently sealed his card for next year’s Asian Tour season, is now targeting the top position on the PGTI. The 20-year-old Shubhankar began the week with a birdie after narrowly missing a 15-feet eagle putt on the first. He then found the water hazard on the fourth to drop back to even-par.

It was then one-way traffic for the three-time winner on the PGTI as he picked up five birdies and an eagle thereafter. One of his top shots of the day came on the 15th where he almost holed his approach from 160 yards before settling for a tap-in birdie.

Shubhankar said, “It was a solid day altogether. I just had one bad hole where I found the water. I missed only two greens today. I played really well on the back-nine. However, my front-nine wasn’t as good. That’s an area I’d like to improve on.

“I feel it’s going to be a low-scoring week and putting will hold the key. I’m hoping to carry forward the form from the Asian Tour. Having almost secured my Asian Tour card, I’m now in a relaxed frame of mind and looking to pursue my other goal of winning the Rolex Ranking title.”

Both C Muniyappa and Kapil Kumar scored seven birdies against a lone bogey to lie tied second at six-under-64. Muniyappa was in hot form with the putter as he drained three 20-footers and came close to converting another 25-footer.

“I’m quite at home at this course as I had set the course record here with a nine-under-61 at the CG Open two years back. Even though the record was broken the next day, that week was a memorable one for me as I finished third thanks to my round of 61. The good memories from that event would hopefully help me raise my game this week,” said Muniyappa.

Kapil Kumar, the runner-up last week in Digboi, said, “I’m carrying forward the momentum from last week as my game is quite sharp at the moment. It’s all about taking the opportunities on the greens this week and capitalizing on the good start.”

Gurgaon’s Deepinder Singh Kullar, Delhi-based Shivendra Singh Sisodia and Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta occupied tied fourth place with scores of 65.

Mumbai-based professional Anil Bajrang Mane made a solid start to the week with a 66 which featured an eagle on the 18th. Mane shared seventh place along with eight others including Delhi golfers Rashid Khan and Gaurav Ghei as well as Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu.

Amateur golfers Aadil Bedi of Chandigarh and Mumbai’s Akash Modi made a good start with scores of 67 to be tied 16th.

Honey Baisoya of Delhi, the winner of the last two events on the PGTI, shot a 68 to be tied 26th.

Albatross for K Prabagaran

Sri Lanka’s K Prabagaran achieved the rare feat of making an albatross during round one of the CG Open when he holed his second shot from 180 yards on the par-5 18th hole. He was three-over through 17 holes but ended the round with an even-par-70 to be placed tied 42nd thanks to his last hole albatross.

Prabagaran thus became the fifth player to make an albatross on the PGTI. The last albatross on the PGTI was achieved by Shubhankar Sharma back in December 2014.

Prabagaran only realized he had holed it when he saw spectators close to the green clapping and pointing towards the hole.