Chikka cards six-under on opening day

Chikka cards six-under on opening day

In favourable conditions at the picturesque Karnataka Golf Association (KGA), local favourite S Chikkarangappa put in a blazing round to be in joint lead with four others on the opening day of the Bengaluru Open Golf Championship.

Playing only his second event on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) this season, Chikkarangappa shared the lead with Order of Merit leader Shamim Khan, Himmat Singh Rai, Sri Lankan Anura Rohana and veteran Sujjan Singh, who all carded six-under 66 on Wednesday.

Grouped among the early tee-offs, the Bengaluru golfer endured a sluggish start with a bogey on the second hole as he missed a regulation four-foot putt after reading the line wrong.

But showing plenty of pluck, Chikkarangappa stormed back into the reckoning nailing as many as seven birdies and making a crucial save on the 16th  hole after going out of bounds.

Unhappy with his putting in recent tournaments, Chikkarangappa decided to scrap his putter and switch to what he was using a year-and-a-half ago and one that had served him well for ten years.

"I haven't been thrilled with the way my putting has been over the last year or so. I've had just one win with the putter I was using and hence decided to switch to the one I was using previously. That change really helped me today," he said adding he also needed to keep his emotions in check in order to triumph here.

Error-free

Among the pace-setters, Chandigarh's Sujjan was the only one to enjoy an error-free outing, while Himmat's round was contrasting in nature as he endured three bogeys in conditions that were relatively docile.

Things could have been a lot different for the Delhi pro as he could have grabbed the sole lead and put some distance between himself and rest, had he concentrated a little harder.

Admitting that nerves got the better of him at some point, Himmat said: "I misjudged the line on the fourth and sixth greens and on the 18th  it was more about feeling nervous. I tried a rather safe approach from the tee with a two-iron instead of my driver and that probably cost me."

Meanwhile, for Sujjan, it was a day where he used his driver on just five occasions. He revealed the driver he usually uses had been broken during transit, which is why he made the conscious decision of switching to a conservative strategy.

"I travelled from Manila to Bengaluru and once I reached the airport here, I realised my driver was broken. Since I'm using a different club now, I had to strategise accordingly. Happy with how things turned out, though," he said.

KGA's M Dharma, along with young Veer Ahlawat and Honey Baisoya, was just one shot behind the leading group going into round two which, if the first day is anything to by, promises to be an exciting affair.

Scores (Indians unless mentioned): 66: S Chikkarangappa, Sujjan Singh, Shamim Khan, Himmat Singh Rai, Anura Rohana (Sri); 67: M Dharma, Veer Ahlawat, Honey Baisoya; 68: Harendra Gupta, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Mukesh Kumar, N Thangaraja (Sri), Chiragh Kumar.

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