Kochi, 04-03-2015

Bhullar, Shubhankar lead the pack on day one

Hole-in-one by Pratap Atwal

Kapurthala’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and defending champion Shubhankar Sharma of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon, shot scores of three-under-69 to be joint leaders in round one of the PGTI Cochin Masters presented by CIAL Golf & Country Club. N Thangaraja of Sri Lanka and Udayan Mane of Bangalore were placed tied third at two-under-70. 

Gaganjeet Bhullar, playing at the CIAL Golf & Country Club for the first time, got off to a solid start with long birdie putts from 12 feet and 25 feet on the 12th and 14th respectively. Bhullar picked up another birdie on the 16th to make the turn at three-under. Gaganjeet, however, lost some momentum, as he missed the greens on the fourth and eighth to drop two shots. On the front-nine he could only manage birdies on the sixth and ninth. The five-time Asian Tour winner closed the round on a high with a 15-feet birdie conversion on the ninth.

Bhullar said, “I enjoyed my first competitive round at the CIAL Golf & Country Club. The layout reminded me of some of the courses in Europe. The course makes you think and take some tough decisions. The conditions were tough today as it was windy and therefore one didn’t see too many low scores. I putted well today and importantly closed the round well with a long birdie conversion on the ninth. It’s a good start to the week.”

He added, “It’s great to see the sport being taken to new centres such as Kochi. The initiative taken by PGTI and CIAL to hold a professional event here will help popularize the sport in Kerala. I believe the talent pool on the PGTI has grown tremendously since I last played on the tour in 2011. We have so many new winners. There are now at least 15 to 20 players who can win any given event.”

Defending champion Shubhankar Sharma looked comfortable at his happy hunting ground as he drained birdied putts from 10 to 12 feet on the 13th and 16th and then found the green in two on the par-5 second hole to pick up another stroke. A lip-out on the third resulted in Shubhankar’s only bogey of the day. However, he fought back with an excellent chip on the closing ninth that set up a tap-in birdie.

Shubhankar said, “I’m delighted to be back at the CIAL Golf & Country Club where I won my first event. I’ve had a good start to the week. One needs to be straight off the tee at this course and half the work is done. I’ve been playing well over the last one month. The top-20 finish at the Indian Open gave me a lot of satisfaction. I now just need to put together four good rounds.”

N Thangaraja and rookie Udayan Mane were one shot off the lead in joint third. 

Pratap Atwal of Delhi made a hole-in-one on the 17th during his round of even-par-72. He was placed tied 12th.

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.

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