Noida’s Amardip Malik, also known to his friends and fellow golfers as ‘Hammer-Deep’, lived up to his name as he hammered a sparkling nine-under-62 to take the first round lead at the PGTI’s season-opener, the Golconda Masters Golf Championship 2019 Powered By Telangana Tourism being held at the Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC).
In the process, Malik also equalled two-time Golconda Masters champion and good friend Ajeetesh Sandhu’s course record which the latter had set in 2016.
Patna’s Aman Raj, who recently qualified for the Asian Tour and Bengaluru’s M Dharma were both placed tied second thanks to their top-notch efforts of seven-under-64.
Amardip Malik, a two-time champion on the PGTI, had an action-packed day as he sank an incredible 12 birdies in exchange for a bogey and a double-bogey. The 33-year-old had a disastrous start to the tournament after he hit it out of bounds on the first hole to drop a double-bogey.
Thereafter, it was one-way traffic for Amardip barring a bogey on the fifth, as he not only staged a remarkable comeback but also finished with the best round of the day courtesy his exceptional ball-striking and iron-play and consistent putting. He made birdies on all the four par-5s finding the green in two shots on three of them.
Malik made some quality chip-putts for birdies and missed out on a hole-in-one by a whisker on the seventh. His accurate approaches on a couple of holes set up birdie putts within five feet and he also drained three birdies from a range of 15 to 30 feet. Amardip followed up his three-under on the front-nine with an outstanding six-under on the back-nine.
Amardip said, “This is probably the most satisfying round for me in about four years. Golfers usually complain about leaving out shots on the course. I felt I made up three to four shots today especially with the four consecutive birdies from the 14th to the 17th. However, I was unlucky to miss out on a six-foot birdie conversion on the 18th that could’ve taken me to 10-under. But I couldn’t have asked for more.
“Interestingly, it was the second time that I ended up with a score of nine-under at the HGC despite making a double-bogey on the opening hole. At the inaugural 2015 edition of the tournament, I had shot a second round of nine-under-61 after recovering from a double-bogey on the opening hole when the course was a par-70.
“I’ve been playing well over the last couple of months and have carried that form into this event. I had a third-place finish at the PGTI’s season-ending event in December and then narrowly missed out on earning an Asian Tour card at the Asian Tour Qualifying School after having been in contention till the penultimate round. These two performances added to my confidence.
“I would like to thank fellow professional Gurbaaz Mann for helping me with my club-fitting last week which has contributed to my good start here in Hyderabad. Gurbaaz is my mentor, club-fitter and a close friend,” added Malik, who won his last event in October 2017.
Aman Raj, fresh from the high of having qualified for the Asian Tour for the first time, mixed nine birdies with two bogeys to close round one in tied second. Aman converted five birdie putts from a range of eight to 20 feet and chipped-in for birdie on the 16th.
M Dharma traded eight birdies for a bogey in his round of 64 to be tied second along with Aman Raj.
Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa occupied the fourth place at 65 while two-time champion Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh was in tied seventh at 67 along with the likes of Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi and Delhi’s Rashid Khan.
Defending champion Udayan Mane of Ahmedabad was tied 19th at 68 while another former Golconda Masters winner Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh ended the day in tied 49th at 71.