Shubhankar Sharma lived up to favourite’s tag with scorching opening 66

Vastavam web: Fresh from his maiden international win last week, Shubhankar Sharma lived up to favourite’s tag with a scorching opening round of six-under-66 that gave him the lead at the McLeod Russel Tour Championship here today.Bengaluru’s Rahil Gangjee, playing at his former home course, the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, and Rashid Khan of Delhi also got off to impressive starts with scores of five-under-67 to share second place at the PGTI’s season-ending event worth Rs 1.5 crore.Shubhankar’s accurate hitting ensured that he kept landing it close to the pin on the front-nine where he had five birdies and a bogey.

Shubhankar sank his longest putt of the day, a 30-footer, for birdie on the 10th and followed that up with another birdie on the 11th to move to six-under. He then made pars all the way till the end. He signed off with a brilliant chip-putt to save par on the 18th.”I’ve had some success at the RCGC having won the All India Amateur Championship here in 2012 and a PGTI event in 2016. So I have a comfort level on this course. If you get hot here, nothing can stop you from scoring low.”

Gangjee fired a bogey-free 67 to make a grand start to the week in his original home Kolkata. Gangjee, who retained his Asian Tour card by a narrow margin after finishing 60th in the Order of Merit last week, sank two 25-footers for birdies along with a 20-footer for par on the 13th.Among the foreign players in the field, Japan’s Yuwa Kosaihira and Sri Lankan N Thangaraja were the highest-placed in tied fourth at 69 along with Delhi’s Sachin Baisoya and Patna’s Aman Raj.Local favourite SSP Chawrasia carded a 71 to be tied 12th while Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu was a further shot back in tied 20th.