Packed leaderboard despite stern tests at RCGC

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Harendra Gupta shot a 4-under 68 to be tied for the lead after Day 1 of the ICC-RCGC Open in Kolkata
Harendra Gupta shot a 4-under 68 to be tied for the lead after Day 1 of the ICC-RCGC Open in Kolkata

Mari Muthu R, Harendra Gupta, Angad Cheema, Ankur Chadha and Vikrant Chopra shot four-under 68 to enjoy the first round lead at the ICC RCGC Open.

On a packed leaderboard at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, the leading quintet was one shot ahead of six players bunched in tied sixth at three-under 69 which included local lad Akram Ali Mollah, Tapy Ghai, Anura Rohana, last week’s winner Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, Kshitij Naveed Kaul and Kurush Heerjee.

 

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It was a high scoring day that witnessed sub-par rounds by only 31 players in a field of 126.

Muthu and Harendra, both room-mates this week, found themselves at the top of the pack with the former firing an eagle, four birdies and two bogeys and the latter returning a bogey-free round with four birdies to his credit.

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Muthu, who made a 20-feet eagle conversion on the fourth, said, “I got off to a great start this season with a career-best third place finish at Eagleton in February 2020. However, I was disappointed to not have capitalized on that start as my putting didn’t click thereafter. But I feel my putting is now improving with each event, so I’m hopeful of finishing the year well.”

Harendra, a multiple winner on the PGTI, has had a promising run since the resumption of the tour in September having posted two top-10s and two other top-20s. He is currently 22nd on the Order of Merit.

He said, “I sank my first birdie of the day on the 18th from 14 feet and that seemed to spur me on as I then collected three more birdies on the front-nine. I’m going through a swing change and my iron hitting has been good after a long gap thanks to the changes I’ve made in my game.”

 

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Cheema, currently 23rd on the order of merit, came up with five birdies and a bogey on Thursday. Cheema, a winner on the PGTI, was five-under through 17 holes when he was looking good for the sole lead. However, he bogeyed the closing ninth, missing a five-footer, for his only blemish of the day that saw him drop down into the joint lead at four-under.

Chadha got off to a whirlwind start on the back-nine with four birdies on his first five holes before dropping bogeys on the 15th and 18th. He made a recovery, picking up two birdies on the front-nine.

After being even-par on the back-nine, Chopra too made his way up the leaderboard by firing four birdies on the front-nine.

Defending champion Mithun Perera carded a one-over 73 to be tied 42nd.

PGTI