Noida, September 11: Round one of the inaugural QA InfoTech Open saw a crowded leaderboard as five players were tied for the lead at three-under-69. While Delhi-based Asian Tour regular Chiragh Kumar fired two eagles, Sri Lankan N Thangaraja came up with a hole-in-one as both cemented their place at the top of the pack.
The other three players in the joint lead were Jamshedpur-based Karan Taunk, Sri Lankan Mithun Perera and Delhi's Arjun Prasad. Six players were one shot behind at tied sixth including the likes of the seasoned Delhi duo of Ashok Kumar and Arjun Singh as well as Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow and Chandigarh-based amateur Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, who finished fourth in Jaipur last week. Indian legend Jeev Milkha Singh, making his return to the PGTI after almost a year, shot a one-under-71 to be tied 13th.
Former Asian Tour winner Chiragh Kumar had a promising back-nine where he was two-under thanks to a chip-in for eagle on the 14th. He then produced his second eagle of the day on the first where he canned a 15-feet putt. He was five-under for the day heading into the last hole, the ninth, however, he dropped a double-bogey there.
Following his round Chiragh said, "It's probably the first time that I've made two eagles in the same round. That's quite satisfying in itself. The conditions weren't easy as it was tough to judge the pace on the greens. The golf course is also playing longer than usual due to the recent rains.
"My first round of seven-under-63 during last week's event in Jaipur has done a world of good to my confidence considering I've had a tough year on the Asian Tour so far. This is once again a good start taking into account the tough scoring conditions here in Noida."
Thangaraja, a winner on the PGTI this year, made a terrific start to the week with a birdie on the first and a hole-in-one on the third. He then had a lean patch from the seventh to the 15th where he dropped two bogeys and a double-bogey and earned just one birdie.
However, Thanga came roaring back with birdies on the last three holes to end up with the day's joint best of three-under. Thanga said, "I was quite excited after seeing my tee shot land in the hole on the third. It was a six-iron shot. Unfortunately, I couldn't capitalize on the good start. There were too many errors thereafter. But I was happy with the late comeback on the last three holes."
Among the other joint leaders, Perera had five birdies and two bogeys while Taunk and Prasad produced four birdies and a bogey each. Jeev Milkha Singh, playing at the Noida Golf Course after five years, mixed three birdies with a bogey and a double-bogey to be two off the lead. Gaurav Pratap Singh was the best placed among the Noida golfers. He too carded a 71 to be tied 13th.