September 2, 2021 9:17:09 pm
Defending champion Udayan Mane and Harendra Gupta, winner of the inaugural edition in 2015, found themselves in a difficult position at the end of the opening round of the gold season opener the Golconda Masters Telangana Open at Hyderabad Golf Association (HGA) course on Thursday.
Udayan who represented India in the Tokyo Olympics was lying at tied 83rd after carding 74 while Harendra was joint 13th at 68.
Pukhraj Singh Gill of Ludhiana and Manu Gandas of Gurugram with seven-under 64 were in joint lead but in contrasting styles. Yashas Chandra (65) of Mysuru was one shot behind the leaders with seven birdies with a bogey to be placed third at six-under 65.
Pukhraj, 24, shot the best round of his fledgling career while Manu, 25, with five top-10s, was in good nick.
Meanwhile, Digraj Singh Gill, younger brother of Pukhraj, had an eagle-two on the 14th and is tied for fourth with a score of 66 along with Amardeep Malik of Noida.
PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh and 2019 champion Chikkarangappa of Bengaluru fired scores of 67 to be tied sixth.
Pukhraj, just three years into pro golf, bagged three birdies on the first six and on the last four holes to end up with a bogey-free 64. He was in the bunker on the 17th but salvaged a birdie and on the 18th too, Pukhraj managed to pick up a birdie from a tough spot as he chipped-in after hitting his approach over the green.
Manu collected two birdies and a bogey on the back-nine as he started from the 10th but added six birdies on the front-nine. He sank a 22-footer on the third and made chip-putt birdies after hitting it over the green on the sixth and eighth.
“It was my best day since I turned professional in 2018. My accuracy with the driver paid off as this course is playing tighter this time with the rough being up. I hope to keep the tempo. Playing after Covid-19 break of six months, it was difficult but then I was working on my swing during the break,” said Pukraj about his first round show.
Manu felt he continued from where he left before the season came to a halt. “I picked up birdies from tricky situations and shot a seven-under here before too. I’m at ease,” Manu said.