Gupta hits front with impressive three-under

Local lad Murthy, Ranjit in joint second place

On Top: Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh in action during the opening round of the Bangalore Green Open golf at the KGA on Wednesday. DH photo

In complete control of his game, the 25-year-old played a solid round on a course that played long due to overnight rain to card a three-under 69 and take one-stroke lead over Bangalore’s R Murthy and his city-mate Ranjit Singh at the Karnataka Golf Association.

Accuracy in driving will be the key to success is what most golfers voiced during the Pro-Am event on Tuesday, and Gupta put that into play to break away from the group. He holed just three birdies, but Gupta stood apart, bringing up a bogey-free round.

Delighted after playing a superb round, Gupta said he was excited to be in the lead. “My game was just brilliant today. The hitting and putting was all on target. I was hitting the centre fairway on most occasions and striking it close too.”

Gupta, who won as an amateur at the KGA in 2002 and clinched his last PGTI title in May 2008, made a bright beginning after he birdied the par-4 first hole with a neat six-foot putt. He then picked up a stroke on the fifth hole with a five-foot putt before holing in from a close range on the 11th and taking his score to three-under.

Murthy, who moved from home course KGA to one in Belgaum around five years ago, would have had a much happier reunion had it not been for a see-saw performance. The 32-year-old fired a whopping six birdies, but some erratic play in between cost him four bogeys. “It feels nice to be back at the KGA. I hope to be more consistent for the rest of the tournament,” said Murthy.

While Gupta and Murthy just had to contend with overcast conditions, Ranjt had to battle through rain and sunshine as well. The Chandigarh pro was elated despite missing his pitching wedge which he felt cost him the two bogeys on 10th and 11th.

“The course was playing really brilliant. But, yes weather was a problem. I had to keep shuffling from umbrella to clubs. However, to have done well in adverse conditions feels good,” Ranjit said.

Leading scores (after 18 holes): 69: Harendra P Gupta; 70: R Murthy, Ranjit Singh; 71: Ali Sher, Vinod Kumar, C Muniyappa, Shamim Khan, Md Siddikur Rahman, Manav Jaini.

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