Amardip sizzles on day one

Meerut golfer fires 8-under for three-stroke lead over Shamim

Amardip Sinh Malik tees off in the opening round of the BILT Open golf tournament at the Karnataka Golf  Association course on Wednesday. DH PHOTO / SRIKANTA SHARMA R

Searching for his maiden title on the PGTI circuit after a few near run-ins, the Meerut golfer set the sodden course afire with a scorching eight-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead over Shamim Khan.

Local lad Anirban Lahiri, an afternoon starter, made a promising beginning to his title defence with a four-under 68 to lie tied third with Divyanshu Bajaj as other stars like C Muniyappa and Gaganjeet Bhullar disappointed with identical three-over 75s.

Heavy overnight rain and a couple of strong spells in the morning made conditions really difficult, threatening high scores on a notoriously challenging course. But that was not the case with as many as 23 golfers shooting sub-par cards and Amardip shining the brightest of all.

It was the kind of day when everything went right for Amardip, who eclipsed the previous record of seven-under 65 jointly held by Jyoti Randhawa, Amandeep Johl and Harendra Gupta. Slow to start off, the 10th-tee starter found only two birdies on the front-nine but took even himself by surprise on the return journey, firing five birdies and closing out his round with a stunning eagle on the par-5 ninth. The only blemish on an impeccable performance was a bogey on the seventh, where he two-putted from the green. “I had a bad practice round yesterday, and my only aim was to try and shoot under-par,” said the 25-year-old, who won the All India Junior Championship at the same course in September 2002. “At last year’s BILT Open, I shot 10-under for the first two rounds but fell apart miserably with 10-over on the next two days. Hopefully, the same disaster doesn’t happen again and this year turns out to be mine.”

The highlight of Amardip’s round, apart from two 40-foot birdie putts on the third and fifth, was most definitely the eagle on the ninth. Playing his third shot from the centre fairway, Amardip chipped the ball from around 140 yards that landed perfectly on the green before rolling neatly into the cup.

It was not a happy homecoming for Indian Open champion Muniyappa. Struggling to keep his game going, the 33-year-old sunk four bogeys against just one birdie, while Asian Tour winner Bhullar endured a fluctuating round, finding four bogeys and a double bogey against three birdies.

Leading scores (after 18 holes): 64: Amardip Sinh Malik; 67: Shamim Khan; 68: Divyanshu Bajaj, Anirban L-ahiri; 69: Gaurav Pratap Singh, Mana-v Jaini, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Randhir Sin-gh Ghotra, Shaurya Singh; 70: Anura Rohana, Mohd Yamin, Raj Randhawa, Harish K, Ashok Kumar, Sujjan Singh, Chiragh Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Digvijay Singh.

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