Mukesh Kumar shoots lowest score in round one, Rashid, Jaini, Zamal
Mukesh Kumar of Mhow posted the best score on day 1 of the biggest prize money Rs 1.25 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship to establish a one-stroke lead.
The seasoned campaigner's four-under-68 at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) placed him a shot ahead of Rolex Rankings leader Rashid Khan of Delhi, Manav Jaini, another Delhi golfer and Md Zamal Hossain Mollah of Bangladesh.
Mukesh suffered an early setback when his tee shot on the first hole landed out of bounds and resulted in a bogey.
However, the 'King of the Greens', got back to level-par with a birdie on the par-5 fourth hole after narrowly missing an eagle putt from 15 feet.
The 47-year-old who is currently fourth on the PGTI's Rolex Rankings raised the tempo by landing his approach shot within a couple of inches of the pin for birdie on the eighth. Mukesh then sank a 10-footer to pick up another stroke on the ninth and make the turn at two-under.
The Mhow-based professional carried on the good work on the back-nine sinking a 15-feet birdie putt on the 12th and following that up with an eight feet conversion for his fifth birdie of the day on the 13th.
" I had poor start today. I was quite surprised with my opening tee hot which landed out of bounds. I didn't expect it to go there. Thereafter, my first task was to get back to even-par after setting up a good birdie opportunity on the fourth. My solid hitting from the fourth hole onwards helped my confidence. I was consistent from there on and took all my chances. I only missed one fairway after the first. " " The RCGC course is playing to international standards.
There is a premium on hitting the fairways. Finding the rough can make life difficult. It's about placing your tee shot well, " said Mukesh, who has previously won twice at the RCGC.
Rashid Khan with six birdies and three bogeys occupied joint second place at three-under-69. His approach shots stood out in round one.
Rashid was joined by fellow Delhi golfer Manav Jaini in tied second place. Jaini positioned his shots to perfection on Wednesday and putted well on the last five holes. His round was punctuated by four birdies and a bogey.
Md Zamal Hossain Mollah's score of 69 made it a three-way tie for second place. Zamal also shot four birdies and a bogey.
Delhi golfers Shamim Khan, Karan Vasudeva, Bangalore's C Muniyappa, Ranjit Singh of Chandigarh, Sri Lankan Mithun Perera and Bangladeshi Md Shakhawat Hossain Sohel are in tied fifth position with matching scores of two-under-70.
Jyoti Randhawa and Kolkata's Rahil Gangjee are in tied 11th place at one-under-71 while another local favourite SSP Chowrasia is a further shot back in tied 17th place.
Anirban Lahiri had an ordinary start with a round of 74.
He is currently placed tied 32nd.