Bengaluru: Upsetting the applecart of favourites, Dev Chandigarh vaulted to the top grabbing the lead in the first round of the fifth edition of the Louis Philippe Cup at the Karnataka Golf Association on a hot, sunny Wednesday afternoon.
Guided by a superb show from Himmat Rai, the Chandigarh team, back in the fray after two years, showed pure class as they sat atop the leaderboard, three shots ahead of defending champions Ahmedabad.
Rai left the others way behind as he shot a near-flawless round of seven-under-65 to sit atop the leaderboard. His team-mate Sujjan Singh shot a one-under-71 to help post a total of eight-under-136. With only the two best scores being counted out of three in each team, Amardip Malik’s one-over 73 was not considered.
Rai, who returned the best score of the day, fired eight birdies. He got off to an ideal start with back-to-back birdies. The 29-year-old saved five shots on the front nine, on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 8th holes, while his three birdies on the back-nine came on 12th, 13th and 18th. The only blemish on his card was on the 14th
Speaking about his near-perfect round, Rai said, “I had a lot of good shots today. My overall game came together and I was concentrating on every shot. I’m playing good in patches in all departments and that worked for me. Both my putting and hitting was on the mark.”
Meanwhile, Mithun Perera along with team-mate Shankar Das spurred the defending champions to a total of five-under-139. Perera got off to a solid start, carding three-under 69, while Das returned a card of two-under-70.
A further two-shots behind at three-under-141 are strong contenders Chennai along with Mumbai. With Rio-bound SSP Chawrasia leading Chennai along with two local players, including S Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi, the team is considered a threat. While SSP returned a card of two-under-70, his team-mates did not have the desired outing as they both turned in identical scores of one-under-71.
Chennai was in strong position to vault to the top or at least tie with Ahmedabad, with Chikka putting up a solid performance. But a bogey and a double bogey on the back nine triggered Chikka’s meltdown.
Home team Zion Hills Bengaluru ended the opening day one shot behind at two-under-142. Local lad M Dharma along with Abhijit Chadha turned in identical cards of one-under-71.
Meanwhile, new entrants NSports Hyderabad struggled on the opening day as they were placed at the bottom of the table with three-over-147, with Ajeetesh Sandhu carding one-over-73 and Gaganjeet Bhullar failing to live up to his billing with a two-over-74....