THE LAST time four-time Asian Tour winner 36-year-old Shiv Kapur competed in a tournament at Chandigarh Golf Club was almost two decades ago when Kapur won the All India Amateur title at the club. Kapur, who won the Panasonic Open India last year and also became the only golfer to win thrice on the Asian Tour in 2017, carded his best round of the year to grab the lead with a score of seven-under-65 on the opening day of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational presented by Take Solutions.
Kapur’s first-round score of seven-under-65 also equaled the course record held by Mukesh Kumar, Gaurav Ghei, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Ranjit Singh. Kapur, who had two top-ten finishes on the Asian Tour this year, sank seven birdies at the 7,073 yard long golf course with his first birdie of the day coming on the par-5 13th hole. The back-nine also saw Kapur sinking another birdie on the par-415th hole before the 36-year-old finished the back-nine with a score of two-under-34.
The front-nine saw Kapur sinking birdies on all the par-4 holes except for the sixth hole, where he made par apart from managing to save par on the second hole. The Delhi-based Kapur, who had ended an 11-year-and-four-month wait for a second Asian Tour title in the Yeangder Heritage last year, sank birdies on the two toughest holes in terms of golf index, the seventh and 15th hole. He also hit 16 out of 18 greens and Kapur termed this the key to his bogey-free round.
“I am happy with the score. To shot a 65 is always a sign that one is playing good. I think the first nine holes, I was two shots short the way I played. I was trying to judge the pace and line of the greens and once I got my rhythm, it set things up for me. The birdie on the opening hole on the front-nine set things up for me. The par save on the second hole was also an important one. I guess my tee to greens shots set the tone for me and I will take five birdies on the front-nine on any day. No two greens here are the same and they have different pace with some being double paced. Adapting to such pace was the key here and there is still a long way to go in the tournament,” said Kapur after his round.
If Kapur sank five birdies on his back-nine, Chandigarh youngster 20-year-old Karandeep Kochhar sank four birdies during the front nine. It also included the youngster sinking a birdie on the par-5 527 yard long second hole. Kochhar also sank a birdie on the 13th hole, the fourth longest hole on the course. Kochhar, who finished tied 15th in the Panasonic Open India last week, equalled his best round score of 66 this year which he scored in Yeangder TPC.
“My driving was good today and the birdie on the fifth hole set the rhythm for me today. Adjusting to the pace of the greens was a tough challenge today and my focus was to keep the ball in the fairways. With the greens playing at double pace, putting was also the key and I am happy the way I putted. My family was watching me today and walked the full round with me. Such things always motivate me,” Kochhar said.
Another Chandigarh golfer Abhijit Singh Chadha was tied third along with rounds of five-under-67 each. Six-time Asian Tour winner Jeev Milkha Singh struggled his way as he carded a score of five-over-77 to be at the tied-99th place. Singh’s round saw him returning with two double bogeys and four bogeys apart from three birdies.
”I just did not hit the ball well off the tee. I was trying to get the low shits going but was not able to hit the ball where I wanted. The double bogey on the tenth hole at the start of my round and a bogey on the next hole did not help my cause much. I was trying to be aggressive and was able to sink birdies on the 18th hole apart from second and seventh hole, which is rated the toughest of the course. This will give me some confidence and I will aim to play consistently in the second round,” Singh said.