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Golf: Khalin Joshi  hits 66 to lead the field  after first round

Golf: Khalin Joshi  hits 66 to lead the field  after first round

Chandigarh, 3 December : Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi braved an injured wrist and some inconsistent putting to fire  six-under-66 and emerge first round leader at the Rs 1.5 crore Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational 2020 Presented by TAKE Sports  at Chandigarh golf club  here on Thrusday.

The 28-year-old Khalin, a winner of four titles including one on the Asian Tour, had an eventful day as he sank two eagles, five birdies and three bogeys en route his 66 to take a one-shot lead in the star studded field.

Local  challenger  Akshay Sharma was tied second place at five-under-67 along with another Bengalurean M Dharma.

Among the prominent names, Anirban Lahiri (70) was tied 10th, SSP Chawrasia (71) was tied 16th, Gaganjeet Bhullar (72) was tied 33rd, Jyoti Randhawa (74) was tied 53rd while tournament host Jeev Milkha Singh (75) was placed tied 68th.

Khalin Joshi, who started from the 10th tee on Thursday, made a 20-feet eagle conversion on the 13th, two birdies and two three-putt bogeys to make the turn at two-under.

He then had a far better front-nine, garnering his second eagle of the day by hitting an excellent drive and following it up with a 10-feet conversion on the second hole.

The leader collected three more birdies on the front-nine thanks to some good gap wedge shots. He also dropped his third three-putt bogey of the day on the seventh.

He suffered a wrist injury on Monday while in Bengaluru and thought about withdrawing from the tournament. But after a couple of sessions with the physio at the CGA on Tuesday and Wednesday he felt much better and decided to play the event.

Khalin, currently ranked 10th on the PGTI merit list thanks to three top-10s in the season, said, “I was thinking about withdrawing from the tournament but the good work by Nav, the physio at CGA, helped my wrist feel much better.

“My hitting including my driving and approach shots stood out today. However, my putting was patchy as I made some good conversions but also had three three-putts which all resulted in bogeys.

“Importantly, I replaced the three-iron in my bag with a gap wedge for this week as I felt the latter would suit me more for the yardages at this course. The addition of the gap wedge seems to have helped me as it set up a couple of birdies for me today.

Akshay Sharma, the winner in Panchkula last month, endured a poor start as he dropped a bogey on his opening 10th hole. Sharma then rallied with birdie-eagle on the 12th and 13th where he sank 20 and 10 feet putts respectively. He went on to drain birdie putts from a range of 20 to 35 feet on the 17th, third and eighth.

Akshay, currently fourth on the PGTI Order of Merit, said, “I didn’t have a great start but the eagle on the 13th really lifted my confidence. It was windy and I struggled with my hitting making only 12 greens in regulation. I sank a lot of long putts today but missed as many as three short putts within five feet.

M Dharma, a two-time winner on the PGTI, turned it on with six birdies after a bogey on his opening hole. Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat and Noida-based Amardeep Malik were joint fourth with scores of 68.

Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa, the 2018 champion, was tied for sixth at 69 along with the Chandigarh duo of Angad Cheema and Shabeg Singh Kooner and Faridabad’s Abhinav Lohan.

HSB

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END

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