Panchkula: Delhi’s Rashid Khan, one of the pre-tournament favourites, took the round one lead after shooting a six-under-66 at the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship Presented by Panchkula Golf Club.
Mysuru-based 24-year-old Yashas Chandra fired a record three eagles during his round of five-under-67 to be placed tied second along with five other players including the Tricity’s Ranjit Singh and Angad Cheema.
Rashid Khan, currently placed second in the PGTI Order of Merit and a winner this year, used his wedges to perfection making some quality up and downs which accounted for four of his seven birdies. Rashid’s only blemish was the bogey on the closing 18th where he landed his approach beyond the green.
Khan said, “I did well when I was just short of the green or on the front edge. I took advantage of all the shorter holes like the first, sixth and eighth. The key at this course will be to execute well when you’re within 50 yards of the green. The chip-putts will be tough and one has to land it in the right places.
“I’ve been riding on some good form coming into this week with a win and four other top-10s this year including one at the Indian Open. The game’s been solid and this week it’ll be all about adjusting well to the conditions here.”
Yashas Chandra became only the third player on the PGTI to make three eagles in a round. His eventful round also included three birdies and two double-bogeys. The 2018 PGTI Emerging Player of the Year began the tournament with a double-bogey on his opening 10th hole where he found the hazard. However, he fought his way back on the very next hole by driving the green to set up a 10-foot eagle conversion.
Yashas’ other two eagles came on the first where he sank a 25-footer from off the green and on the sixth where he once again drove the green and drained it from 10 feet. He ended up with an incredible three eagle-twos, a first on the PGTI.
The two players who have previously made three eagles in a round at a PGTI event are two-time Indian Open champion Ali Sher and Veer Ahlawat. Ali Sher also achieved the feat at the PGTI Players Championship at Panchkula Golf Club in 2010 while Veer Ahlawat did the same at the 16th TATA Open 2017 at the Golmuri Golf Club in Jamshedpur.
Chandra said, “My driving and putting were outstanding today. It’s great to have the rare distinction of shooting three eagles in a round. All of them being eagle-twos was even more special. I’ve had a consistent run so far this year including a runner-up finish, another top-10 and three top-20s. So that has given me a lot of confidence coming into this week.”
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh, also in tied second, was on fire on the front-nine as he drove the green on the par-4 first hole and sank a 10-footer to begin the tournament with an eagle. The 44-year-old Ranjit’s second eagle of the day came as a result of a chip-in on the par-4 sixth. He also made three more birdies and two bogeys on the front-nine to be five-under at the turn. The seasoned professional then had a sedate back-nine but managed to keep the errors out making pars all the way through.
Ranjit said, “I’ve made a massive improvement since last year when I was struggling for my card. Jeev Milkha Singh worked with me on improving my putting for almost two months. He has been instrumental in helping me make some minor adjustments in my putting. All that hard work is now beginning to show results as I’ve already posted some decent scores this season. I thank Jeev for all his help and encouragement.”
Panchkula’s Angad Cheema was the other Tricity golfer in tied second place. He mixed seven birdies with two bogeys.
The three other golfers in joint second were Gurugram-based Tapy Ghai, Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Bengaluru’s Syed Saqib Ahmed.
Indian star Jyoti Randhawa posted an even-par-72 to be tied 33rd.
Defending champion N Thangaraja of Sri Lanka was in tied 59th as a result of his 74.