Harpal Singh Bedi
Chandigarh: Six-time international winner Shiv Kapur and local challenger Abhijit Singh Chadha carded identical eight-under 64 to share the first-round lead at the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational at the Chandigarh Golf Club here on Thursday.
Dubai-based Kapur had a bogey-free round, two-time PGTI winner Chadha, playing at his home course, fired an eagle, seven birdies, and a bogey.
Delhi’s Rashid Khan produced error-free seven-under 65 to be placed third. Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, the seasoned Gaurav Ghei of Delhi, Kshitij Naveed Kaul, another Delhi-based player and Gurugram’s Tapy Ghai were all in tied fourth having shot scores of 67.
Aadil Bedi was the third Chandigarh player in the top-10 as he struck a 68 to be tied eighth.
Among the marquee names in the field, Jyoti Randhawa, SSP Chawrasia, Udayan Mane and former champion Ajeetesh Sandhu of Chandigarh carded 69s to be tied 12th while Gaganjeet Bhullar and former champion Chikkarangappa were a further shot back in tied 26th place.
Chandigarh’s Karandeep Kochhar, the defending champion and PGTI Order of Merit leader, shot a 72 to be tied 50th.
The 39-year-old Shiv Kapur, who had a few starts on the European Tour this year, picked up his first birdie of the day on the fifth hole and didn’t look back thereafter as he collected seven more birdies including two on the 16thand 17th.
Shiv said, “I was solid all the way. I didn’t birdie two of the short par-5s and left a couple of putts out there but overall it was a clean card with no bogeys. I also holed my fair share of putts. I hit lots of fairways and all 18 greens in regulation. However, it’s a long way to go and I will look to try and build from here.
“I’ve not played enough competitive golf of late, so I was worried about being a little bit rusty. But the good start to the week helped me shake off the rust. This is a great tune-up for me ahead of the restart of the Asian Tour in a couple of weeks from now.
The 30-year-old Abhijit Singh Chadha, who began his round from the 10th tee. recorded a 64 courtesy of his hot putter. After sinking his first birdie on the 13th, the tall and lanky Abhijit added an eagle, six more birdies, and a bogey to his card. He sank a 45-footer on the fifth and a 30-feet putt on the seventh.
The newly-married Chadha, said, “The two 30-feet plus putts were the highlights of the round. It’s been a slow season for me but I’ve worked a lot on my putting and things are coming together now. Playing in home conditions also always helps.”
Tournament host Jeev Milkha Singh, fellow Chandigarh professionals Amritinder Singh and Gurbaaz Mann as his playing partners, returned a 75 to be placed tied 89th.
Jeev said, “I was pleasantly surprised that I turned at even-par despite being so rusty. I managed myself quite well off the tee and kept it in play. On the front-nine, I made three bogeys from the centre of the fairway so that was a little disappointing and just showed that my iron play was patchy today. I’m looking forward to a better second round.