Khalin Joshi fires scorching 61 for first round lead at Jaipur Open

JAIPUR: Bengaluru golfer Khalin Joshi’s consistent run continued as he fired a scorching nine-under 61 to take the lead in round one of the Rs. 40 lakh Jaipur Open 2021 Presented by Rajasthan Tourism being played at the magnificent par-70 Rambagh Golf Club (RGC).  

Joshi, riding on the confidence of top-10s in the last two PGTI events including a runner-up finish in Delhi last week, knocked in an eagle and nine birdies in exchange for two bogeys on Tuesday.

Rookie Kartik Sharma of Gurugram and M Dharma, another Bengaluru-based pro, struck error-free rounds of eight-under 62 consisting of an eagle and six birdies each to hold joint second position.

Khalin Joshi sank some tough par putts at the start which enabled him to judge the speed of the greens. Khalin then got going with consecutive birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th before recovering from the bunker for a birdie on the 17th followed by another birdie on the par-5 18th.

After making the turn at an impressive four-under, Joshi pushed ahead with a birdie from close range on the second. His bogey on the third was negated by birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh, all converted from a range of eight to 15 feet. The icing on the cake in his extraordinary round was the eagle on the par-5 eighth hole where he drained a 10-footer.   

“I’m extremely satisfied with today’s effort. I feel I’m carrying forward the confidence from last week’s good finish. I also had a great practice round on Monday which got me in a good frame of mind. My game seems to be heading in the right direction as I feel my swing is in control and I’m rolling the putts well,” said Khalin.

He added, “The two five-feet par putts at the start of my round today on the 10th and 11th were crucial as they helped me judge the speed of the greens. Thereafter, the consecutive birdies on the 12th, 13th and 14th gave me the belief that I could shoot a low number today. I just decided to keep pushing from there on.

“This is not a long course so there will be low scores through the week. Whoever can capitalize on the six par-3s and the four par-5s here will be able to put up low numbers. Another important factor would be to keep the ball on the fairway and out of the rough in order to find the comparatively smaller greens at this course. The greens are smaller compared to many other courses but still quite accessible.”

Kartik Sharma, fresh from top-10s in the last three events, made some long conversions including a 40-footer for birdie on the ninth and a 15-feet eagle putt on the closing 18th. Kartik, who last played at the RGC as a junior golfer about four years back, also chipped-in for birdie on the 15th.

M Dharma made a chip-in for eagle on the 14th. He came extremely close to adding two more eagles to his card on the 17th and eighth where he missed the hole by inches.

The Chandigarh duo of Harendra Gupta and Abhijit Singh Chadha were in tied fourth place with scores of 63.

Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa, last week’s winner, occupied tied sixth place at 64 along with Gurugram golfers Veer Ahlawat and Dhruv Sheoran.

PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh was in tied ninth place after a round of 65.

Olympian Udayan Mane returned a 66 to be tied 17th.

Jaipur’s Hemendra Choudhary also carded a 66 to be the highest-placed local golfer in tied 17th.

Among the other Jaipur-based professionals, Vishal Singh posted a 70 to be tied 65th while Girraj Singh Khadka’s 71 placed him tied 76th.

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