Digboi, Assam, 13-11-2013

Kunal Bhasin, M Dharma and Khalin Joshi emerge as joint leaders in round one

Australia’s Kunal Bhasin and Bangalore golfers M Dharma and Khalin Joshi emerged as joint round one leaders at the IndianOil Servo Masters Golf 2013. The three golfers posted scores of five-under-67 at the Digboi Golf Links on Wednesday. Lucknow’s Vijay Kumar is one stroke behind the leaders in fourth position.

The tournament was inaugurated on Wednesday morning by Mr. S S Bapat, Executive Director, (CC and Branding), IOCL and Mr. Barun Barpujari, Executive Director, IOCL (Assam Oil Divison). Mr. S S Bapat’s ceremonial tee-off was followed by the release of pigeons and balloons. Mr. Bapat and Mr. Barpujari also planted trees on the course to mark the inauguration of the event.

Kunal Bhasin made a dream start to the week as he chipped-in on the 10th, his first hole of the day. Kunal then had a flurry of birdies on the 11th, 15th and 16th thanks to some long putts. The bogey on the 17th did not derail the Mumbai-based professional’s round as he came back with a couple of good chips for birdies on the third and seventh. Bhasin also converted an 18-footer for birdie on the fourth. The two-time winner on the PGTI found the trees on the eighth to drop his second bogey of the day.

“I putted well today and missed just one short putt. I also played some great chip shots. The chip-in on the opening hole got me going. I’m high on confidence at the moment as I played well at the Indian Open last week where I didn’t make a single bogey on the last 28 holes. I even recovered well from tough situations last week and that lifted my spirits,” said Bhasin.

M Dharma bogeyed the fourth but rallied with birdies on the seventh and eighth courtesy two good chip shots. Dharma picked up a birdie on the 11th before landing it within three feet for another birdie on the 12th. The 27-year-old picked up two more strokes as he sank a 20-footer on the 14th and chipped-in on the 17th.

Dharma said, “This is one of my best efforts this season. I’ve had a good year so far with three top-10s and have been hitting it well. I hit my wedges to perfection today. Hitting good approach shots is the key here. I’ll look to capitalize on this solid start in the coming rounds.”

Rookie Khalin Joshi began his day with a bogey on the 10th but soon recovered with four straight birdies from the 12th through the 15th and another birdie on the 18th. On his second-nine, Khalin made two birdies against a lone bogey.

“I’m playing here for the first time but I enjoyed the way I hit the ball. My putter was also solid. I landed it within six feet from 100 yards out on three occasions. There are some tight holes on this course such as the first, fifth and eighth. I’ll need to plan well for these holes in the coming rounds. I’ve had an average season so far but I’m now looking to change that with some good performances,” said Joshi.

Vijay Kumar with six birdies and two bogeys was placed fourth at four-under. Rashid Khan of Delhi was a further stroke back in fifth position.

Defending champion Mukesh Kumar of Mhow fired a two-under-70 to share sixth place along with another Mhow golfer Om Prakash Chouhan as well as former champion Harendra Gupta of Chandigarh, Gurgaon’s Deepinder Singh Kullar and Delhi’s Shamim Khan.

S Muthu of Coimbatore made a hole-in-one on the fourth during his round of seven-over-79 that placed him tied 66th.

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