Ajeetesh Sandhu’s 63 gives him first round lead at TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship

Ajeetesh SandhuKolkata: Ajeetesh Sandhu made a welcome return to Tollygunge Club after over a decade as he scorched the course with a seven-under 63 to lead the field in round one of the TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship 2022 presented by Tollygunge Club.

Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa, Rahil Gangjee, originally from Kolkata and now based in Bengaluru, defending champion Karandeep Kochhar, Khalin Joshi, Vikram Rana and Varun Parikh were tied for second with scores of 64.

Indian golfing great Jeev Milkha Singh, who last played at Tollygunge as a 15-year-old junior golfer, came up with an error-free 65 to be tied eighth along with Rashid Khan, Veer Ahlawat, Sanjeev Kumar and Kolkata’s Sunit Chowrasia.

Aadil Bedi, who shot a 68, fired a rare albatross on the par-5 seventh as he holed his 9-iron second shot from 156 yards. The 21-year-old Aadil, the winner of the last PGTI event at Tollygunge in 2020, was placed tied 31st along with another Indian star and Kolkata golfer SSP Chawrasia.

Chandigarh-based Ajeetesh, an Asian Tour winner, who last played an event at the venue in 2011, created several scoring opportunities for himself with his accuracy off the tee. Sandhu conceded an early bogey on the third before rallying with eight birdies. He capitalized on all the three par-5s with birdies.

The 33-year-old Ajeetesh said, “I put together a solid round today. I got myself in good positions with my tee shots which helped create chances with my wedge shots into the greens. I managed to make the most of the par-5s which are within reach at this golf course.

“This round is all the more special because I’m playing at this venue after 11 years and to start the week in this manner gives me the belief going forward.”

Among those bunched in tied second, Khalin Joshi struck two eagles, three birdies and a bogey while Rahil Gangjee made eight birdies and a double-bogey.

Gangjee said, “It’s been a good start as I made a couple of 20 to 25 footers today. For me it was just about braving the heat since I don’t live in Kolkata anymore and am not used to it. Besides my game I also have to make sure that my fitness levels are right up there so that I can last four days in the heat.”

Jeev Milkha Singh chipped-in for birdie on the 12th and made some good par-saves enroute his flawless 65 on Tuesday.

Jeev, who has been working hard on his game before beginning his new innings on the Senior Tour in a few weeks’ time, said, “I’m playing a competitive event at this venue after 35 years. I last played here as a junior. I got some very positive vibes playing here today. I didn’t have a practice round here and just went with the flow and what my caddie told me, so in that context I’m quite pleased with my effort.”