Kolkata, Feb 8 (Calcutta Tube / IBNS): Kolkata’s Rahil Gangjee blasted a scorching nine under 61 to take the honours on the opening day of the Aircel PGTI Players Championship presented by Tollygunge Club.
Gangjee made an astounding ten birdies and an eagle besides three bogeys in his opening round. Jyoti Randhawa and rookie Rashid Khan of Delhi are in tied second place with matching scores of six under 64.
Rahil Gangjee was on fire at the par-70 Tollygunge Club course on Tuesday as it rained birdies for him. After a birdie-bogey start on the 10th and 11th, Rahil converted a 12-footer for birdie on the 12th. He picked up another stroke on the 13th.
The 32-year-old produced a superb second shot (lob-wedge) from 76 yards on the 16th that ended up in the hole and thus earned him an eagle. Gangjee closed his first nine with a birdie after almost making a hole-in-one on the 18th. His tee shot stopped six inches from the pin on the 18th.
Gangjee, a winner on the Asian Tour in 2004, made the turn at five under, and thereafter kept up the intensity by hitting it really close on the second nine.
He sank birdies from the first through the fourth to make it five birdies in a row (including the 18th). A bogey on the fifth was followed by two more birdies on the seventh and eighth. Rahil closed the round with a bogey on the ninth.
“I hit it extremely close. I had a wonderful run from the 16th to the fourth. The eagle-two on the 16th was one of the highlights of my round. I then almost pulled off a hole-in-one on the 18th. The putter was also hot as I sank a couple of 10-footers on the first and third.
“I recently made nine birdies on this course during a practice round and that gave me a lot of confidence going into this event,” said Gangjee, who is known for his great sense of humour on the professional circuit.
He added, “This course is very tight so one needs to be on the right side of the hole. That is exactly what I managed to do today.”
Jyoti Randhawa, playing in Kolkata after 12 years, made a brilliant start in round one with a six under 64 that featured eight birdies and two bogeys. Randhawa, who won the last event he played at this venue back in 1998, was in good putting form on Tuesday.
Randhawa said, “I putted well today. The 25-footer for birdie on the sixth was one of the best putts of the day. Most of the scoring will be done on the greens this week since putting holds the key. I feel I’m focusing well at the moment since a short break from the game in the last few months has served me well.”
Rookie Rashid Khan joined Randhawa in tied second place as he too fired a 64 in round one. Rashid, a silver medalist at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, made an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys in round one.
Gaurav Pratap Singh of Noida posted a five under 65 to be placed fourth.
Gaganjeet Bhullar carded a three under 67 to be placed tied eighth while Anirban Lahiri returned a 68 to lie tied 11th.
M Nazir Ali of Kolkata made a hole-in-one on the 11th in his round of two under 68. He ended the day in tied 11th place.
Kolkata’s SSP Chowrasia lies in tied 50th place since he carded a two over 72.