Taking the front nine apart with great accuracy and a steady putter,Arshdeep Tiwana charged ahead at the Noida Open Amateur being played at the par-72 Noida Golf Club today.
Enjoying a rich vein of form on the Amateur Tour,Arshdeep put on another great show and with a birdie-birdie finish,returned a card of five under 67. Three strokes behind is L Selvadurai,who carded a round of two under 70. Close on his heels are two 19-year-olds Abhinav Lohan and Pranav Kaul,along with the experienced Saurabh Bahuguna as they finished with an identical score of one under par.
One stroke further back are strong contenders in the form of Gagan Verma,Abhishek Jha and Rahul Bajaj. The trio finished level for the day with a round of even par 72.
Hyderabad lad Arshdeep,started from the tenth tee and had an up-and-down first nine holes. He made the turn at even par with three birdies and three bogeys. But even Arshdeep had no clue about what was in store for him as he sank five birdie putts in his last nine holes.
He said: I knew I was putting well but the big break came on the 6th. Having reached the green in two,I sank a monster putt that was about 70-80 feet in length. The charge came before that as he made birdies on the first and second hole. With the 80-footer in hand after that and two more birdies on the last two holes,he opened up a three-stroke lead over the nearest contender.
A lot of credit for this round goes to my caddie. Not only was he great with his advise on the greens,he also helped me a lot whenever I hit a bad shot and helped me stay focused, he added.
Arshdeep came close to winning his first title on the Amateur Tour but fell at the last hurdle when Moin Malak pipped him to the post at the Eastern India Amateur. It was a tough one but I did not take it to heart. I got a lot of positives out of it and the fact that I went so far ahead in matchplay gave me a lot of confidence. Top ten finishes at the RCGC Cup and the Western India have also played a great role in helping the mental side of my game, he said.
Tournament favourite Rashid Khan got off to a slow start with a round of two over 74,but was confident of making a move up in the remaining rounds.
The scoring in the first round was affected by the windy conditions and rain later in the day. With three days to go,it is too early to predict a winner but the rest of the field has some catching up to do to draw level with Arshdeep who signed off with a note of caution No lead is big enough with more than 50 holes left to be played.
For someone who has had to overcome the disappointment of failing to win his first title after being two up with four holes to go,it seems like he might have just turned the corner.