Players Championship golf Rd 1: Yashas Chandra with 7-under 65 sets the bar at Panchkula Two-time Asian Tour champion and reigning PGTI Order of Merit winner Rashid Khan of Delhi was tied second with a five-under 67 along with Sunit Chowrasia of Kolkata and Veer Ahlawat of Gurugram.
Yashas Chandra MS from Mysuru turned pro only in 2018 and lost an entire year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In his third visit to Panchkula Golf Club on Wednesday, the 26-year-old continued with his love affair at his favourite course with a top-notch seven-under 65 in round one of the Rs 50 lakh TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship.
In his first two visits here in 2018 and 2019, Yashas finished top-20 and top-10, respectively.
As a rookie, Yashas won the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year in the maiden year itself and was placed 11th at Golconda Masters in Hyderabad last week.
On a windy day in the first round, Yashas began with pars and backed with brilliant driving and chipping, scored four consecutive birdies from the fifth on the front-nine and was bogey-free for the entire day. On the back-nine, Yashas picked up three more birdies including a 30-feet conversion on the 18th.
“I’ve played well at the PGC in the past and that kind of helped me gain the lead today. I finished fourth here back in 2019 having shot a seven-under in one of the rounds. I also made three eagles in my opening round at the same event. I was hitting it well so kept landing it close to the green on the par-5s and made some good chips from there to create chances. The wind didn’t create too much trouble for me because it was one-way and not swirling around,” said Yashas about his performance.
During lockdown during the pandemic infused lockdown, Yashas was home and instead of worrying about the Covid-19, he set a practice net. “I set up a practice net in my backyard and focussed on my hitting and chipping daily. Importantly, that kept me in touch with the game and contributed to my good ball-striking since the resumption of the season last week,” he said how he managed to beat Covid blues.
Meanwhile, two-time Asian Tour champion and reigning PGTI Order of Merit winner Rashid Khan of Delhi was tied second with a five-under 67 along with Sunit Chowrasia of Kolkata and Veer Ahlawat of Gurugram.
Rashid had six birdies and a bogey in the second during his 67 including a 15-feet birdie conversion on the ninth. Sunit too had six birdies and a bogey while Veer Ahlawat sank seven birdies against two bogeys.
“I’m in the process of finding my swing. My ball flight is generally high but I’ve somehow been hitting it low for the last few months. That seems to have worked to my advantage today as low ball-flight helps in such windy conditions. After a good finish last week (where Rashid was tied second with seven others) I’m hoping to carry forward the momentum in this event.”
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh shot a 68 to occupy the fifth position while eight players are tied sixth at 69 including PGTI Order of Merit current leader Karandeep Kochhar, Abhijit Singh Chadha and Amritinder Singh of Chandigarh, Chikkarangappa S and M Dharma of Bengaluru and Shankar Das of Kolkata, Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Kartik Sharma of Delhi.
Defending champion Akshay Sharma of Chandigarh and Manu Gandas of Gurugram, winner of the PGTI in Hyderabad, were both placed tied 26th with scores of 72 while Tokyo Olympian Udayan Mane was tied 68th with 17 others.
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