PANCHKULA: Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra set the bar with a top-notch seven-under 65 in round one of the Rs. 50 lakh TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship Presented by Govt. of Haryana & Panchkula Golf Club.
The 26-year-old Yashas, who secured tied 11th on the PGTI last week, continued his good form with an error-free effort at one of his favoured venues where he has struck some low scores in the past.
Reigning PGTI Order of Merit champion Rashid Khan of Delhi, who ended tied seventh last week, also continued to impress with a five-under 67 that saw him end the opening day in tied second place along with Kolkata’s Sunit Chowrasia and Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat.
Yashas Chandra, the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year in his rookie season in 2018, started making his move on day one at the Panchkula Golf Club (PGC) with four consecutive birdies from the fifth to the eighth which came as a result of some brilliant driving and chipping.
Chandra, drawing confidence from his top-10 and top-20 finish in his last two events at Panchkula, picked up three more birdies on the back-nine including a 30-feet conversion on the 18th.
Yashas, searching for his maiden title, said, “I’ve played well at the PGC in the past and that kind of helped heading into this week. I finished fourth here back in 2019 having shot a seven-under in one of the rounds. I also made three eagles in my opening round at the same event.
“I was hitting it well so kept landing it close to the green on the par-5s and made some good chips from there to create chances. I’ve been sharp in all aspects of my game since last week but now I just need to make sure that I stay patient.
“It was quite windy today but the wind didn’t create too many doubts for me because it was one-way and not swirling around. I felt the wind was predictable so one could commit to a shot.
“During the strict lockdown in my hometown Mysuru when I was housebound, I set up a practice net in my backyard and practiced my hitting and chipping daily. Importantly, that kept me in touch with the game and contributed to my good ball-striking since the resumption of the season last week.”
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan mixed six birdies with a bogey during his 67. His round featured some quality approach shots and up and downs. He closed the day with a 15-feet birdie conversion on the ninth.
Rashid said, “I’m in the process of finding my swing. Things are slowly settling down for me. My ball-flight is generally high but I’ve somehow been hitting it low for the last few months. That seems to have worked to my advantage today as low ball-flight helps in such windy conditions. After a good finish last week I’m hoping to carry forward the momentum in this event.”
Sunit Chowrasia too had six birdies and a bogey while Veer Ahlawat sank seven birdies against two bogeys to share second place along with Rashid.
Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh was the highest-placed Tricity golfer as he shot a 68 to occupy fifth position.
The eight players bunched in tied sixth at a score of 69 included the Chandigarh trio of PGTI Order of Merit leader Karandeep Kochhar, Abhijit Singh Chadha and the seasoned Amritinder Singh as well as the Bengaluru duo of Chikkarangappa and M Dharma, Kolkata’s Shankar Das, Mhow-based Om Prakash Chouhan and Delhi’s Kartik Sharma.
Defending champion Akshay Sharma of Chandigarh and Gurugram-based Manu Gandas, winner on the PGTI last week, were both placed tied 26th with scores of 72.