Kolkata, 22 Mar 2016

Feroz Ali Mollah & Shubhankar Sharma continue hot streak, part of leading quartet on day one of Kolkata Classic

Amardip Sinh Malik & Abhishek Jha also share four-way lead; Slow start for SSP Chawrasia

The inaugural edition of the Kolkata Classic Golf Championship got off to a fascinating start at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) as there was a four-way tie for the first round lead at four-under-68.

The host city of Kolkata was well-represented at the top of the leaderboard by the Rolex Ranking leader Feroz Ali Mollah. The others sharing the lead with Feroz were Gurgaon’s Shubhankar Sharma, currently second in the Rolex Ranking, Noida’s Amardip Sinh Malik and Abhishek Jha of Bengaluru.

The leading quartet, were one stroke ahead of Kolkata’s Indrajit Bhalotia, Gurgaon’s Manu Gandas and Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow who were all in joint fifth.

Kolkata’s SSP Chawrasia, who won the Indian Open last Sunday, had a slow start to the week as he carded a three-over-75 to be tied 56th.

Shubhankar Sharma, winner of the PGTI’s second event of the season in Bengaluru, was on a roll when he made six birdies on his first 11 holes which included four birdies on the trot from the 13th to the 16th. Sharma was then pushed back after he dropped three shots on the fifth and sixth. However, the Asian Tour rookie salvaged a stroke with a closing birdie on the ninth.

The 19-year-old Shubhankar said, “I’m shooting better scores and getting more consistent with each passing event. Today again I was looking good for a low number but the two errors on my second-nine cost me a few shots. I couldn’t recover from the bunker slope on the sixth where I ended up with a double-bogey. But it was still nice to end the day with a birdie.

“I have some good memories of the RCGC, having won the All India Amateur here in 2013. I also made an albatross here at the Tour Championship in 2014 when I posted a top-10. I’ve had a good start once again and will look to build on it,” added Shubhankar, who was the runner-up at PGTI’s last event in Hyderabad.

Feroz Ali Mollah, winner of the season-opener in Kochi last month, also continued his hot streak as he mixed six birdies with two bogeys at his home course on Tuesday.      

Feroz, a former Indian Open champion, said, “I’m feeling good about my game this year. I feel everything is coming together and I’ll only get better from here on. My putting was the best part of my game today.

“I want to be in the contest till the very end especially because I’m playing on my home turf. I would love to give the youngsters a tough fight,” added the 46-year-old seasoned campaigner.

Amardip Sinh Malik and Abhishek Jha too had six birdies and two bogeys, like Mollah. While Malik adjusted well to the RCGC layout after playing last week’s Indian Open at the DGC, Jha’s terrific opening round signaled his return to one of his favourite venues.

Senior pro Indrajit Bhalotia was the second Kolkata golfer in the top-5 thanks to his first round of 69 that placed him tied fifth. He was joined by Manu Gandas and Om Prakash Chouhan in tied fifth. Gandas made an eagle-two on the 17th after he holed his approach from 150 yards.

Pre-tournament favourite SSP Chawrasia made three birdies but also had four bogeys and a double-bogey during his opening round of 75.

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