Chikkarangappa S of Bengaluru struck a blistering 10-under-62 to take the first round lead at the Tata Steel Tour Championship being played at the Beldih and Golmuri golf courses in Jamshedpur on Thursday.
Noida’s Amardeep Malik posted an impressive nine-under-63 to be placed second on day one of the Rs. 1.5 crore PGTI (Professional Golf Tour of India) event.
Gurugram’s Manu Gandas, Delhi-based Kshitij Naveed Kaul and Arjun Prasad and Chandigarh’s Harendra Gupta were all in tied third place having shot matching scores of 64.
Pre-tournament favourite Anirban Lahiri fired a 65 to occupy tied seventh along with the Chandigarh duo of Karandeep Kochhar (PGTI Order of Merit leader) and Yuvraj Singh Sandhu.
In round one, one half of the field played their 18 holes at Beldih course while the other half played at Golmuri course. Both halves of the field will switch venues in round two.
Chikkarangappa, who began his week at Golmuri, the venue that produced the lower scores on day one, claimed an eagle, nine birdies and a bogey. The 27-year-old reaped the benefits of using a new putter early on in his round as he sank birdie putts from a range of 10 to 15 feet on the first, fifth, sixth and seventh. After landing it within three feet on the ninth and 10th, Chikka added two more birdies to his card.
The two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) was relentless thereafter as he picked up birdie-eagle-birdie on the 11th, 12th and 13th to move to an astonishing 10-under for the day. On the 12th, he recovered well from the rough with a terrific nine-iron second shot before converting an 18-footer for eagle. The 13th saw him make another 15-feet conversion.
The Asian Tour regular Chikka then found the trees on the 17th that led to his only bogey of the day. He managed to negate it with a birdie on the closing 18th.
“I changed my putter this week as I was struggling to hole putts in previous events even though I was stroking it well on the greens. The new putter seems to be working for me as I holed a lot of long putts today,”Chikka said..
“I’ve been in contention in all events since the tour resumed in November this year. However, I still need to convert my good starts at events into better finishes. Hopefully, with my driving, wedge-play and putting now shaping up well, I can have a good result this week.
“Golmuri is more scoring among the two courses this week so I expect Beldih to throw up its own set of challenges when I play there during round two,” added Chikka, who finished a creditable second at the PGTI event in Jamshedpur in 2018.
Amardeep Malik, who also played at Golmuri on day one, came up with a flawless round. Malik was in contention in the last event in Chandigarh lying one off the lead after round three before he finished tied 16th. On Thursday he made four consecutive birdies on the front-nine and back-nine.
Amardeep capitalized on all four par-5s – second, third, 11th and 12th – by picking up birdies there. He also drove the green on the par-4s fourth and 13th to set up birdies.
Harendra Gupta and Arjun Prasad produced the best scores at Beldih , rounds of 64, to be tied third along with Manu Gandas and Kshitij Naveed Kaul both of whom played at Golmuri.
Gupta suffered a groin injury while teeing off on the ninth but still managed to return a bogey-free card.
Among the other prominent names, SSP Chawrasia, a three-time winner in Jamshedpur and local amateur Navtez Singh were both tied 13th having carded scores of 67. Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur were both tied 18th with scores of 68 while Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rahil Gangjee were a further shot back in tied 23rd place.
Defending champion Udayan Mane of Pune shot a 71 to be tied 52nd while Delhi’s Rashid Khan, the highest-ranked Indian in the world, posted a 72 to be tied 60th.