SRINAGAR: Pune-based Udayan Mane, who recently represented India at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, fired a sublime seven-under 65 in round one of the J&K Open 2021 Presented by J&K Tourism to take the early lead at the Rs. 40 lakh PGTI event being played at the Royal Springs Golf Course in Srinagar.
The Delhi duo of Rashid Khan and Honey Baisoya as well as Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat, the runner-up at the PGTI event last week, shot scores of five-under 67 to be tied second at the end of day one.
Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow, Chandigarh’s Akshay Sharma and Patna’s Aman Raj returned cards of four-under 68 to be tied fifth.
Delhi-based Kshitij Naveed Kaul, who has his origins in J&K, carded a 70 to be tied 14th.
Indian golf legend Jyoti Randhawa posted an even-par 72 to occupy tied 25th place.
Pawan Parihar was the highest-placed among the players based in J&K. Parihar, who hails from the Jammu Tawi Golf Course, also produced a 72 to take a share of 25th place.
Udayan Mane got off to a dream start with eight birdies on the first 10 holes. He struck the ball with pin-point precision landing it within six feet of the pin to set up birdies on the first, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. On the 10th the big-built Mane sank a 12-footer to move to eight-under for the day.
After a terrific start, Udayan then slowed down on the back-nine as the putts didn’t roll in for him. He dropped a bogey on the 15th but saved a good par from the bunker on the 16th.
Mane said, “I just started off with a bang and was seven-under thru nine holes and eight-under thru 10. Coming in I didn’t really make enough putts to get the round going. I was looking at a 59 after the 10th but it didn’t go as per plan for me on the back-nine.”
On playing a professional event for the first time at the picturesque Royal Springs Golf Course, Udayan said, “The main thing is to enjoy where you are and the golf will take care of itself. One needs to soak in the scenery and enjoy the surroundings rather than anything else in order to be in a better frame of mind to hit one’s shots.
“The fifth hole stands out for me as one of the most scenic spots on the course as one gets a good view of Dal Lake from there. But there are a lot of other scenic spots too, like the 18th tee box, 18th green and the ninth hole fairway. Everything just looks awesome. We are indebted to J&K Tourism for inviting us here. We need sponsors like J&K Tourism to keep the game alive in India.”
Before his tee-off in the morning, Mane got to interact with local children from government schools who are undergoing training at the Government of J&K’s Golf Academy.
On the experience of meeting these budding young golfers, Udayan said, “It was amazing to see so many young boys and girls take up the game. The Govt of J&K’s initiative with the setting up of the Golf Academy in Srinagar is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, the presence of us professionals here in Srinagar can motivate these school kids. This tournament gives the school children a great opportunity to interact with the professionals and also be able to see and gauge what they are required to do to play at this level.”
Among the three players in tied second at 67, Veer Ahlawat and Honey Baisoya had error-free rounds while Rashid Khan made seven birdies and two bogeys.
Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa, the last winner at Royal Springs Golf Course, ended the day with a 73 to be tied 39th while PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh was a further two shots back in tied 63rd place.