Jaipur: Ashok Kumar of Delhi and Noida’s Vikrant Chopra returned flawless rounds of eight-under-62 at the Rambagh Golf Club on Wednesday to establish a two-shot lead in round one of the Jaipur Open 2017.
Kolkata’s Divyanshu Bajaj occupied third at six-under-64 at the Rs. 30 lakh event.
Ashok Kumar, playing only his second event of the season due to recent health issues, made an explosive return to the PGTI with a 62. The former PGTI Order of Merit champion hit it with pin-point precision on the back-nine making two birdie tap-ins and another birdie conversion from four feet.
The 34-year-old, who plays at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon, then had a contrasting front-nine as he made some long conversions. He sank four birdies from a range of 12 to 30 feet.
Ashok said, “It’s great to return to competitive golf after seven months with such a fabulous round. I hit it close early on and that created many opportunities for me. My iron-play was also strong and so was my putting in the latter stages.
“The highlight of my round was the 30-feet birdie conversion on the sixth. I was delighted to have scored three birdies on the last four holes. That gave me a solid foundation to build on. Putting will be the key this week since this is comparatively shorter course.”
Vikrant Chopra, one of the most consistent performers on the PGTI who has not enjoyed much success in the 2017 season so far, made his presence felt with a 62 at the Rambagh Golf Club on Wednesday.
Vikrant’s mammoth 60-feet birdie conversion on the third set off a run of five birdies for him on the front-nine. He then nailed birdies on all three par-5s on the back-nine. Chopra produced a terrific chip-in from the edge on the 18th that helped him join Ashok at the top of the leaderboard.
Chopra said, “This is a good comeback of sorts for me as I had no birdies in the final round at Kensville last week. I did really well on the par-5s today, making birdies in three of the four par-5s.
“I felt I closed the round well and just in time before the weather became threatening. I was trying to save par on the last but got lucky with the chip-in from the edge. That really pumped me up.
“I’m looking ahead to a strong week here as my tee shots and putting are pretty sharp at the moment. I’ve had a quiet season so far so I’m keen to have a solid second half. The key will be to keep the ball in play as the rough is up this time at Rambagh.”
Divyanshu Bajaj, fresh from a career-best top-5 finish at the Asian Tour event in Bengaluru last month, carried forward the momentum with a top-notch 64 that featured seven birdies and a bogey. The highlights of his round were a chip-in for birdie from the rough on the first and two birdie conversions from 25 to 30 feet.
Delhi golfers Shamim Khan (PGTI Order of Merit leader) and Pawan Kumar were tied for fourth at five-under-65.
Delhi’s Rashid Khan, one of the pre-tournament favourites, shot an opening round of one-under-69 to be placed tied 31st.
It wasn’t a good day for the four Jaipur golfers in the fray. While Jaipur’s leading professional Vishal Singh carded a 73 to be tied 87th, Mahesh Yadav (77), Damodar Kumawat (81) and Yogendra Kumawat (86) were placed tied 115th, 124th and 126th respectively.