Digboi: Ahmedabad’s Anshul Patel hogged the limelight with a sizzling first round of nine-under 63 to lead by three shots at the 21st edition of the IndianOil SERVO Masters Golf being played at the pristine Digboi Golf Links.
Patel’s good friend and room-mate Shravan Desai, another Ahmedabad-based professional, was tied second at six-under 66 at the Rs. 60 lakh event. Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (66) too took a share of second place on day one.
The start of round one was delayed by one hour and 15 minutes in the morning due to fog. The round finally began at 7:15 am. As a result of the delayed start, 18 players out of a total of 117 could not finish their first round on Wednesday. They will come back and resume their round at 6 am local time on Thursday.
The left-handed rookie Anshul Patel, currently ranked 74th in the PGTI Order of Merit and fighting for a spot in the top-60 to retain his card for next year, played some great wedge shots on the back-nine that helped him set up four of his five birdies before the turn. He also had a 20-feet conversion on the 16th and a bogey on the 17th.
The 26-year-old Patel, playing at Digboi for only the second time, landed it close yet again on the second, third and eighth to pick up three more shots. Anshul found the green in two on the closing par-5 ninth before draining an eight-footer for eagle thus ending up with his lowest score in a tournament.
Anshul said, “I felt I was in the zone since the start of the day. I knew if my putts rolled in, I would shoot a good number today. Closing the day with birdie-eagle on the last two holes did a lot for my confidence.
“I’ve been trying to figure out a few things about my game and from the Srinagar event onwards in September I picked up a few things on how I should play around my strengths. That’s given some direction to my game. I’m still looking to putt better though.”
Shravan Desai, another rookie like Patel, shot an error-free 66 in his very first competitive round at the Digboi Golf Links. Desai, currently 68th in the PGTI’s money list, is also vying for a spot in the top-60 to retain his PGTI card. Shravan, who had a top-10 in Srinagar in September, made two 12 to 15 feet conversions on Wednesday.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu produced eight birdies and two bogeys during his 66.
Gurugram’s Shivendra Singh Sisodia, former champion Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh and Panchkula’s Angad Cheema were in tied fourth having shot scores of 67.
The two local golfers who made promising starts were Deepraj Chetia (tied 13th at three-under 69) and Dulal Kalowar (tied 37th at even-par 72).
The tournament was inaugurated on Wednesday morning by Mr. Kailash Pati, ED & Refinery Head, IOCL (AOD) Digboi Refinery, who did the ceremonial tee-off, the customary release of balloons and the planting of trees at the Digboi Golf Links during the inauguration ceremony.