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Tour Report: Round 1 at the CG Open

Shubhankar resumes pursuit of the Rolex Ranking crown with a dazzling opening round 63 at CG Open, K Prabagaran achieves a rare albatross!

23 Nov 2016, 22:04 IST

Mumbai, November 23, 2016: Shubhankar Sharma of Panchkula, currently third in the Rolex Ranking, resumed his pursuit for the no. 1 spot on the PGTI with a dazzling seven-under-63 at the CG Open 2016 that gave him the first round lead.

Bengaluru’s C Muniyappa and Delhi’s Kapil Kumar were a stroke off the lead in tied second place at the Rs. 1 crore event being played at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC).

Sri Lankan K Prabagaran also hogged the limelight in round one as a result of a rare albatross on the 18th. He closed the day with an even-par-70 to be placed tied 42nd.

Shubhankar Sharma, who recently sealed his card for next year’s Asian Tour season, is now targeting the top position on the PGTI. The 20-year-old Shubhankar began the week with a birdie after narrowly missing a 15-feet eagle putt on the first. He then found the water hazard on the fourth to drop back to even-par.

It was then one-way traffic for the three-time winner on the PGTI as he picked up five birdies and an eagle thereafter. One of his top shots of the day came on the 15th where he almost holed his approach from 160 yards before settling for a tap-in birdie.   

Shubhankar said, “It was a solid day altogether. I just had one bad hole where I found the water. I missed only two greens today. I played really well on the back-nine. However, my front-nine wasn’t as good. That’s an area I’d like to improve on.

“I feel it’s going to be a low-scoring week and putting will hold the key. I’m hoping to carry forward the form from the Asian Tour. Having almost secured my Asian Tour card, I’m now in a relaxed frame of mind and looking to pursue my other goal of winning the Rolex Ranking title.”

Shubhankar is a man on a mission and shot a brilliant 63

Both C Muniyappa and Kapil Kumar scored seven birdies against a lone bogey to lie tied second at six-under-64. Muniyappa was in hot form with the putter as he drained three 20-footers and came close to converting another 25-footer.

“I’m quite at home at this course as I had set the course record here with a nine-under-61 at the CG Open two years back. Even though the record was broken the next day, that week was a memorable one for me as I finished third thanks to my round of 61. The good memories from that event would hopefully help me raise my game this week,” said Muniyappa.  

Kapil Kumar, the runner-up last week in Digboi, said, “I’m carrying forward the momentum from last week as my game is quite sharp at the moment. It’s all about taking the opportunities on the greens this week and capitalizing on the good start.”

Gurgaon’s Deepinder Singh Kullar, Delhi-based Shivendra Singh Sisodia and Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta occupied tied fourth place with scores of 65.

Deepinder said, “I drove it well all day and iron play was solid too. I putted well too and holed a few clutch putts and took advantage of good birdie opportunities.”

“This week, the greens are good especially after the last two weeks in Shillong and Digboi.”

“I am presently 23rd on the Rolex rankings and It's been a consistent year with a string of top 10's and top 15's.”

“The only thing to be weary of this week will be the wind. You really get to see the teeth of this golf course when the wind picks up. Keeping the ball in play will be the key to playing well in the next three rounds.”

Mumbai-based professional Anil Bajrang Mane made a solid start to the week with a 66 which featured an eagle on the 18th. Mane shared seventh place along with eight others including Delhi golfers Rashid Khan and Gaurav Ghei as well as Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu.

Rashid said, “I shot a consistent round of 66 today and started with a birdie on the 1st which came from an up & down save. I am happy with my performance today as I did not know what to expect from my dodgy wrist. I injured it in Phillipines two weeks ago and have not seen a great deal of improvement so far.”

“The key this week will be to keep the ball in play and find maximum fairways. Putting too will play an instrumental role in determining who goes on to win.”

“I have had a poor season on the Asian Tour largely due to unfortunate illnesses/injuries throughout the year. I played two events early on and then met with a road accident which meant that I had to sit out the next couple of months.”

“Upon my comeback, I played another couple of events and then caught a bout of Influenza in Taiwan. A setback like that when you're on the road to coming back from a previous injury is a bitter pill to swallow.”

“I am really hungry to win and have two more opportunities on the Asian tour to salvage the season. I am excited to play the Panasonic Open at my home course next week and fancy my chances of a victory. Hope that a win comes my way either in Delhi or at the UBS Hong Kong open.”

Amateur golfers Aadil Bedi of Chandigarh and Mumbai’s Akash Modi made a good start with scores of 67 to be tied 16th.

Anil Mane said, “I am really pleased with my round of 66 for the day. It's a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills at my home venue where I have received a lot of support and encouragement from the club committee and the members.”

“I started with a string of four pars before I added my first birdie of the day on the 14th hole where I rolled in a 35 footer. I made another putt on the next hole from within 10 feet to go 2 under for the day.”

“I made a bad 3 putt bogey on the 17th where I left my first putt 5 feet short of the hole. I made a brilliant eagle on the 18th after finding the centre of the fairway and setting up a second shot which only needed a 7 iron. I had 10 feet left for an eagle which I confidently rolled in.”

“I started my back nine in better fashion with a birdie on the 1st hole. I hit a solid 7 iron to approximately 8 feet and I converted the following putt for my 3rd birdie in a row. I had a small error of judgement on the next hole where I chose the wrong club and as a result, my approach came up short. The up & down effort wasn't my best and I made bogey.”

“The 4th hole was nothing short of an adventure after I found the fairway and then laid up to a bunker. I topped my 3rd 40 feet past the flag. Although, I recovered with a good 2 putts, I still gave away a shot on a hole where I should at least make par.”

“I parred my way to the 9th where I hit a good 7 iron from 187 yards to inside 15 feet. The birdie to finish was great and it will give me a good boost heading into tomorrow.”

“For the past 3 years I have missed the cut at this event despite this being my home course. I have a great caddie on the bag for the season, Imran who is an experienced caddie on tour and is now full time with me. The course is in great condition and there will be low scores this week.”

“My mindset heading into today was to play freely and shoot a score in red figures. I didn't want to place a number as that would worked against me. My caddie does a great job of keeping my head in the game and not letting me get too down after a poor shot or too excited after a good shot.”

“The key will be to focus on the greens and the short game will have to be top notch if I want to do well this week. My mantra is to enjoy the game and enjoy every round I play and I think it helps me produce better scores.”

Arjun Sharma, who practices at Jaypee Greens Golf club in Noida is another player who has been trending in the right direction in the last few events. He produced a good round of 2 under par which included 6 birdies.

“I hit the ball good today, my ball striking has been good in the last few tournaments.”

He had a great start to his round after he found himself 4 under after 6 holes. However, he quickly gave back two shots on the next two holes.

“I birdied the 11th and 13th before I bogeyed the 16th and the 18th on my way in.”

“I drove the ball very well and made a few putts to compliment that. I am surely playing well right now and this week, finding fairways will be key. It's a tree-lined Golf course and you cannot afford to stray too much as that will cost you a few shots around here”.

“It's a short course and if you are finding fairways, then you can produce some good scores out here.”

Honey Baisoya of Delhi, the winner of the last two events on the PGTI, shot a 68 to be tied 26th .

The SriLankan made the first albatross of the season on the 18th hole today. " I was left with 180 yards for my second which I holed with a wonderfully struck 6 iron. 
I was thinking about what could have been had I holed a few more putts earlier in the round on the 17th when I was 3-over for the round.

He was three-over through 17 holes but ended the round with an even-par-70 to be placed tied 42nd thanks to his last hole albatross.

Prabagaran thus became the fifth player to make an albatross on the PGTI. The last albatross on the PGTI was achieved by Shubhankar Sharma back in December 2014

“I wasn't putting well at all today and I didn't realise that the shot had gone in until the members standing beside the green started clapping.”

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