Gaganjeet, Vijay lead Crompton Greaves Open golf


Mumbai : Gaganjeet Bhullar and Vijay Kumar carded identical six-under-par 64 to snatch early lead in the first Rs.7 million Crompton Greaves Open golf tournament here Thursday.

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Mukesh Kumar was placed next with five-under 65, followed by Yusuf Ali with four-under 66 at the par-70 Bombay Presidency Golf Club.

Shiv Kapur, one of top contenders this week, fought off his backache bravely and carded a two-over-par 72.

Bhullar started magnificently with four consecutive birdies on the first four holes – the par-five first, second, third and par-five fourth holes.

He picked up another birdie on the par-three sixth where he holed a 15-foot putt for par but a double bogey on the ninth hole as a result of hitting his drive out of bounds saw him make the turn at three-under-par, 32.

The 2006 Asian Games silver medallist then birdied the 10th, dropped a shot on the 12th hole after sent his second shot into the bunker and missed a short putt for par. But birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th holes helped him card a six-under-par 64.

“I drove the ball well and my approach shots were close to the hole so I am happy with my game overall. I would like to card a good finish and feel that I am ready to card my first professional victory,” said Bhullar.

Joint leader Vijay is also looking for a good finish this week. With back-to-back birdies on the first, second and third holes, followed by birdies on the fifth, sixth and eighth holes, he was six-under-par after eight holes.

However, a bogey on the ninth where he missed a short putt for par saw him card a five-under-par for the front nine. He then birdied the 10th and 12th holes, but dropped shots on the 15th and 17th holes and a birdie on the last resulted in a first round 64.

“I hit the ball very well but did not putt as well as I would have wished to. I have been playing well in the past but need to drop a few putts like I did today to card a really good score,” said Vijay.

Mukesh, another regular contender on the domestic circuit, also had a good round and is just one stroke behind the leaders after carding a bogey-free five-under-par 65. He birdied the fourth, 11th, 12th, 16th and 18th holes.

“The course is playing well and I hit the ball well today which helped my score,” said the man who hit 16 greens in regulation in his round.

Ali is a further stroke behind Mukesh with his score of 66, while Ashok Kumar, the current 2006-07 Indian Order of Merit leader, shot a three-under-par, 67.

“My aim is to play well and win this week. My game is good, so why should I aim any lower,” said a confident Ashok.

Uttam Singh Mundy played consistent golf to card a two-under-par 68, as did Chandigarh’s Harmeet Kahlon.

Roop Singh and Sanjay Kumar were tied further behind at one-under-par 69. Several players were tied at level-par 70, including Digvijay Singh, Richard Backwell and Arjun Singh.

Scores (after 18 holes): 64 Gaganjeet Bhullar, Vijay Kumar; 65 Mukesh Kumar; 66 Yusuf Ali; 67 Ashok Kumar; 68 Uttam Singh Mundy, Harmeet Kahlon; 69 Roop Singh, Sanjay Singh; 70 Indrajit Bhalotia, Amardip Sinh Malik, Shamim Khan, Digvijay Singh, Harendra Gupta, Rahul Ganapathy, Richard Backwell, Vishal Singh, Arjun Singh, Gast Ram, Sandeep Syal, BG Lalith Kumara, Shaurya Singh and Mohammed Salim