New Delhi, 24-03-2022

Shankar Das shares first round lead with Travis Smyth at The DGC Open presented by Mastercard

Veer Ahlawat, Ajeetesh Sandhu & Karandeep Kochhar also off to good starts

Seasoned Indian professional Shankar Das, who excelled with his 3-wood and putter on day one of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard, shared the first round lead with Australia’s Travis Smyth at five-under 67 at the first international and Asian Tour event to be played in India in over two years.

The other Indians who got off to good starts at the recently re-designed Delhi Golf Club were Veer Ahlawat (68), occupying tied third, as well as Ajeetesh Sandhu (69) and Karandeep Kochhar (69), both lying tied fifth.

The fourth Indian in the top-8 was 2022 PGTI Qualifying School winner Varun Parikh who shot a 70 to be tied seventh.

The soft-spoken Shankar Das, a seven-time winner on the PGTI and the 2014 PGTI Order of Merit champion, scored four birdies on the front-nine landing his shots within seven-feet on all four occasions to announce his presence at the tournament. Shankar dropped a bogey on the 10th but went on to add two more birdies thereafter.

Shankar said, “Actually, I was good at the tees today (3 wood), rescue, approach. Chipping was not so good, but the putting today was really good for me. I have practiced a lot with my 3-wood for DGC.

“There is no hole suitable for a driver here as there is rough on both sides and it is narrow, so a double-bogey is confirmed if you miss the fairway. So using a 3-wood is a better option here.

“This is a very good course. Earlier there were flat greens, but now there are more high greens. Now not only do you have to hit the tee shot well, but you have to hit the second shot really well, then only you get a chance for a birdie. 

“I’m playing pressure-free golf because I have a sponsor now. Overall, I feel I am getting my game back because I played well in Ahmedabad where I had a couple of low rounds and also finished inside the top-10 in Chittagong recently.”

Veer Ahlawat, striking it well, drained with five birdies at the cost of a lone bogey to be tied third along with Nitithorn Thippong of Thailand. Ahlawat, a winner on the PGTI who also had a top-5 on the Asian Tour earlier this year, made all his five birdies from a range within seven feet.

Ahlawat said, “I was putting well and I held the putts which I had to, so the game is feeling pretty good. I'm feeling more relaxed and comfortable on the Asian Tour now so I think that's helping my game.

“I think the new layout of the course, like the greens are playing pretty good. It's just that if you miss the greens, the chip putts are pretty tight. You actually have to be smart where to leave and be smart about your second shots I feel.”

The Indians who fired scores of 71 to be tied ninth were Aman Raj, Shiv Kapur, Shamim Khan, Sachin Baisoya, Manu Gandas and M Dharma.

Pictures: Asian Tour

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Formed in 2006, Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) is the recognised official body of professional golf in India. PGTI's objective is to promote professional golf in the country, as well as to give players an opportunity to be involved in the decision making on all aspects of the game. Headed by Mr. Srinivasan H R (President), PGTI's governing body comprises leading Indian golf professionals. PGTI currently has over 300 members.

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