Mumbai: Pune’s Aditya Bhandarkar’s had a dream run on Day one of the LIC Western India Amateur Golf Championship at Bombay Presidency Golf Club, Mumbai as he hit a 5-under 65 on Par-70 course. Bhandarkar is three shots ahead of No. 1 Indian Amateur S. Chikkarangappa, Bangalorian Khalin Joshi, Maharastra Open Champion Udayan Mane, Delhi’s two veterans Gagan Verma and Vikram Rana – all tied for the second place at 68. Ambala’s Manav Das shot one-under along with Noida’s Simarjeet Singh for tied 7th position.
22-year-old Bhandarkar was all smiles when he submitted his card. He had brilliant eight birdies starting from the first hole and then on 2nd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th and 18th. Few bogeys on 3rd, 9th and 15th which did peg him back a little.
Bhandarkar, who took up the game seriously only four years ago said, “I am so happy and I want to thank my father for introducing this game to me. I used to play street cricket when I was a kid and never thought about a game like golf. Since my father is from Army, he took me to the golf course for fun and I tried playing casual golf. Believe you me, I wouldn’t compare my love for the game and my love for the family but I am ready to give up any kind of high-profile job in future for golf. I am also looking forward to my first victory in this tournament.”
Chikkarangappa who was quite shoddy in Pune, bounced back with a better performance today. He said, “I finally had a good start what I was looking for many days. I had a birdie on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 14th and 18th while I bogeyed 9th, 13th and 16th. After the Maharashtra Open last week, I went to my aunty’s place for two days in Pune, relaxed, had home food and I think that also helped a little bit. If I talk about my regular game, I really need to prepare hard for my upcoming days when I will be playing 7-8 weeks in a row on Asian Tour. I just can’t afford to give excuses like travelling, tiredness or home sickness to my game. My mind is pretty clear that I have to do well for myself as well for my country.”
The 34-year-old Rana who was out from the field for 2 years because of bulge in his disk, made a comeback on the circuit after playing a qualifier round. Rana said, “I had a hole-in-one in the first day of qualifier last to last week and I was thinking about it the entire day and hitting a good score. My aim of playing on the PGTI circuit came on my way two years ago but I am looking to make a strong comeback and try to play the q-school this year.”