Vikrant, Kapil card course record, take joint two-shot lead

kapil-kumarCoimbatore: Noida’s Vikrant Chopra and Kapil Kumar of Delhi smashed the course record with scores of seven-under-65 to grab the joint lead in round one of the PGTI Players Championship at Coimbatore Golf Club. Shubhankar Sharma of Gurgaon lies in third place at five-under-67. Vikrant and Kapil broke the previous single round course record of six-under-66 which was jointly held by Abhinav Lohan and Shamim Khan.

Vikrant Chopra, who was the runner-up at the last event in Coimbatore in 2012, had a forgettable start to the day as he bogeyed the first two holes. He got his round going with a 15-footer for birdie on the third. Chopra, fresh from his win at the LP Cup team event in February, picked up birdies on the fifth, seventh, ninth, 10th and 11th to move to four-under for the day. He chipped-in from the bunker on the seventh. The 33-year-old, looking for his maiden individual title, made his second chip-in of the day for eagle on the 13th. He signed off with a long birdie putt on the 18th. Vikrant was five-under for the day on the four par-5s.

Vikrant said, “I capitalized on the par-5 holes and chipped really well. I could’ve had a second eagle had the 15-feet putt on the ninth not lipped out. I started off poorly but ended the day on a high with a 20-feet birdie conversion on the 18ththat has given me momentum going forward. I’ve drawn a lot confidence from my solid performance at the LP Cup where my team won the tournament. I followed that up with a decent finish at the SAIL-SBI Open where I had a sub-par total. I’ve done well at this course in the past and that is an added advantage. The rough may not be up at Coimbatore this time around but the long par-3s pose quite a challenge.”

The 21-year-old Kapil Kumar mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the front-nine. However, he turned it around with a six-under on the back-nine. Kapil, playing his sixth season as a professional, holed it from the bunker for eagle on the par-4 15th hole and set up tap-in birdies on five occasions with some brilliant iron-play. His longest putt of the day was a 10-footer for birdie on the 17th.

“I landed a lot of shots within five feet of the pin today and thus set up relatively easy birdie putts for myself. I had a fantastic back-nine with an eagle and four birdies. The conditions were conducive for scoring as the famous Coimbatore wind was not in full force today. I had a career-best 29th place finish on the Rolex Rankings last year and that has given me the incentive to perform even better this year,” said Kapil, who posted two top-10s in 2013.

Shubhankar Sharma posted six birdies and a bogey to be placed third. The 18-year-old who finished 22nd on the Rolex Rankings in his rookie 2013 season, made three chip-putts for birdies in round one.

Abhinav Lohan of Faridabad, Chandigarh’s Sujjan Singh, Meerut’s Sudhir Sharma, Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Delhi’s Naman Dawar are in tied fourth at four-under-68.

Defending champion Rashid Khan of Delhi lies tied ninth at three-under-69.

M Rajesh Kumar (four-over-76) is the highest-placed professional from Coimbatore in tied 72nd place.

Leading Scores:

65 – Kapil Kumar, Vikrant Chopra
67 – Shubhankar Sharma
68 – Abhinav Lohan, Sujjan Singh, Sudhir Sharma, Om Prakash Chouhan, Naman Dawar
69 – Rashid Khan, Rudresh Sharma, Mukesh Kumar, Arjun Singh Chaudhri, Raju Ali Mollah