Chikka fires eight-under to wrest early lead

Chikka fires eight-under to wrest early lead

Bangalorean one shot ahead of Thailand's Pijit

Chikka fires eight-under to wrest early lead

S Chikka­ran­gappa led the onslaught from the local boys as the inaugural Take Solutions India Masters got off to a sizzling start here on Wednesday.

Chikkarangappa, whose putter caught fire in a smashing back-nine where he nailed six birdies, returned his best-ever pro tour card, a brilliant eight-under 64 for a one-shot lead at the Eagleton Golf Resort.

Thailand’s Pijit Petchkasem was second at 65 while Chikkarangappa’s friends Abhishek Jha (66), M Dharma (67) and Khalin (67) made hay on a glorious day for golfing where 29 players broke par. Channeling all his emotions following the loss of his beloved grandfather last Monday into superb golf on his home turf, Chikkarangappa was in his elements throughout the day.

The 21-year-old struck the ball sweetly, finding 14 regulations, going off radar and finding the greenside bunker only on the very last hole.

He backed that precision hitting with a brilliant display on the greens, sinking everything within the vicinity to total just 26 putts as he laid down a strong marker for things to come in what could be path-breaking week for him.

Chikkarangappa picked up his first birdie on the fourth hole, sinking a five-footer before tapping-in from given for his second birdie on the seventh. He then stepped on the accelerator in grand fashion on the inward journey, reeling of birdies at will to walk away with the round honours.

After missing an eagle by a whisker on the 10th which he converted into a birdie, he sunk a 12-footer on the 11th and then completed a hat-trick with a 15-foot birdie on the 12th. He strung together a second hat-trick of birdies from the 14th hole before rescuing himself with superb bunker shot on the closing hole to complete a flawless performance.

“I heard about his (his grandfather) demise last Monday when I had gone to play the Macau Open,” said an emotional Chikkarangappa. “That’s why I couldn’t play well there. But my folks really encouraged and told how important it is look ahead. I dedicate this round to him.”

Abhishek, also an Eagleton trainee and starting from the 10th tee, kicked off his campaign with a superb eagle. Thereafter he sunk two birdies -- 14th and 17th -- against two bogeys -- 15th and 18th -- to take the turn at two-under. Just like Chikkarangappa, the 6’5” pro turned on the heat on the back nine, nailing four birdies -- 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th -- to stay within the hunting pack.

KGA’s Dharma, who shares room with Chikkarangappa on Tour, also appeared in fine nick as he covered his opening 10 holes with five birdies. His putter turned cold thereafter as he parred the next six holes where he missed at least two birdies before a bogey on the 17th hauled him back. Khalin too enjoyed a fine day, scoring six birdies against a lone bogey on the final hole.

Leading scores (after 18 holes, Indians unless mentioned): 64: S Chikkarangappa; 65: Pijit Petchkasem (Tha); 66: Abhishek Jha; 67: M Dharma, Niall Turner (Irl), Deepinder Singh Khullar, Khalin Joshi; 68: Abhishek Kuhar, Suppakorn Uthaipat; 69: N Thangaraja, Manav Jaini, C Muniyappa, Himmat Rai, Kapil Kumar, Honey Baisoya, Srikanta M.

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