Kolkata, 25-12-2014

Shubhankar Sharma grabs round one lead with blistering eight-under-64

Chikkarangappa lies second at 66, has the edge in Rolex Rankings race

The Rs. 1.5 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship, the year-ending event of the PGTI, got off to a cracking start at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) on Thursday as teenager Shubhankar Sharma of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, posted a blistering eight-under-64 for the round one lead. Chikkarangappa of Bangalore ended the opening day of the richest-ever domestic event to be staged in India, in second place as he registered a score of 66.

Shubhankar Sharma, who at 17 years of age became the youngest winner on the PGTI at Kochi in April this year, was in sublime form on Thursday as he produced an incredible nine birdies against a lone bogey. The eighteen-year-old was off to a solid start with three birdies on the first five holes including a chip-in on the fifth. Shubhankar made the turn at five-under after two birdie conversions from 10 to 12 feet on the seventh and ninth.

Sharma’s only bogey of the day came as a result of a lip-out on the 10th but he came back stronger with four successive birdies from the 15th to the 18th. He sank a 20-footer on the 17th and landed it close to the flag on the 16th and 18th.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the week. I was striking it well and converting all opportunities on the greens. I’ve not been doing well in the opening rounds of late but today I managed to overcome that problem. But I know I can’t take anything for granted going into the next round as every day is a new day in golf,” said Shubhankar, currently ranked 11th in the Rolex Rankings.

He added, “I’ve got good memories of the RCGC as I won the All India Amateur Championship here in early 2013 just before turning professional. Those good memories could work for me this week. 

“My success on the PGTI earlier this year and my consistent performances on the Asian Development Tour have helped me grow as a player. The fourth place finish in a strong international field at the Panasonic Open recently has also instilled a lot of self-belief in me.”

Chikkarangappa got a head-start in the race for the Rolex Player of the Year title after his opening round of six-under-66. Chikka, currently placed second in the Rolex Rankings, ended the day in second place, thus opening a huge gap between himself and Rolex Rankings leader Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow who shot a one-over-73 to be tied 27th. There is a gap of just over Rs. 2 lakh between the two players at the moment. Chikkarangappa now has the edge in the race for the top spot as the winner at this week’s event is set to take home a prize purse of Rs. 23,77,500.

Chikka’s 66 featured an eagle, five birdies and a bogey. The 2014 Super Series champion almost holed out from 140 yards to set-up a tap-in birdie on the 11th. The 21-year-old also landed it within 10 feet from 220 yards for eagle on the 15th. He sank two 15-footers on the 14th and 18th.

Chikka said, “The rough is up this week so there is a premium on hitting the fairways. I missed just four fairways out of 16 today. I know I’m one of the top contenders for the Rolex Rankings title but I won’t let that dominate my thought process. I just want to play my best golf and enjoy myself on the course.”

Delhi’s Shamim Khan too enjoyed a good start to the tournament as he carded a bogey-free 67 to be placed third on day one. Shamim rolled in three birdie putts from a range of 15 to 25 feet.

Kapurthala lad and winner of six international titles Gaganjeet Bhullar mixed eight birdies with two bogeys and a double-bogey to close the day in tied fourth at four-under-68.

Kolkata’s Shankar Das, who is currently third in the Rolex Rankings, kept alive his hopes of topping the rankings as he too shot a 68 to join Bhullar and Bangalore’s M Dharma in tied fourth.

Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar occupied seventh place after returning a 69 while Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee was a further stroke back in joint eighth.

Reigning Rolex Rankings champion Rashid Khan of Delhi was tied 14th after a round of 71. 

The Kolkata duo of Arjun Atwal (72) and SSP Chowrasia (73), both of whom have enjoyed international success this year, were placed tied 22nd and tied 27th respectively.


About McLeod Russel:

McLeod Russel India Limited (McLeod Russel) is the largest tea production company in the world in the private sector. McLeod Russel, along with its subsidiaries, currently produces about 120 million kilograms of tea over a cultivable area of 38,000 hectares, employing nearly 1, 00,000 in personnel. The geographical spread of the tea estates of McLeod Russel and its subsidiaries are situated in Asia (India & Vietnam) and Africa (Uganda & Rwanda). McLeod Russel also has operations in the Middle East, through its subsidiary in Dubai, engaged in tea blending and trading activities. India, as a single geography, has the largest share of its produce – with the estates located in the states of Assam and West Bengal (Dooars).


About Royal Calcutta Golf Club:

The world-renowned Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), affectionately known as the ‘Royal’, is steeped in history, as it is the oldest golf club outside of the British Isles, having been established in 1829. It is widely regarded as the founder of the game in the country and has staged some of the most prestigious tournaments on Indian soil, including the Indian Open and the All India Amateur Championship. The 7014-yard course favours long hitters and inaccurate shots are punished severely. The large number of water hazards makes this course a real challenge to master.


About Taj Bengal:

Taj Bengal, a city landmark in downtown Kolkata, and part of the Tata Group, is just 3 kms from the city’s commercial centre and is the nearest luxury hotel to Government Offices and Consulates. Located in the city’s greenest precinct, it is within walking distance of the Victoria Memorial, the Royal Calcutta Race Course, the Horticulture Gardens, the National Library and the Zoological Gardens. The hotel completed 25 years of welcoming guests in October 2014, and has hosted dignitaries such as Secretary of State Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Bollywood stars and senior business leaders, and other international VIPs and celebrities.

About PGTI:

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.

For information on PGTI, please contact:

Nikhil Kalaan

Media Manager - PGTI

Mobile: 9910974846

Email: media@pgtofindia.com