Chandra leads Players Championships with 65 in first round

Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra set the pace with a seven-under 65 in round one of the Rs. 50 lakh PGTI Players Championship at the Panchkula Golf Club on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Yashas, who secured tied 11th on the PGTI last week, continued his good form with an error-free effort at one of his favoured venues where he has struck some low scores in the past.

Reigning PGTI Order of Merit champion Rashid Khan of Delhi, who ended tied seventh last week, also continued to impress with a five-under 67 that saw him end the opening day in tied second place along with Kolkata’s Sunit Chowrasia and Gurugram’s Veer Ahlawat.

Yashas Chandra, the PGTI Emerging Player of the Year in his rookie season in 2018, started making his move on day one with four consecutive birdies from the fifth to the eighth which came as a result of some brilliant driving and chipping.

Chandra, drawing confidence from his top-10 and a top-20 finish in his last two events at Panchkula, picked up three more birdies on the back-nine including a 30-feet conversion on the 18th.

Yashas, searching for his maiden title, said, “I’ve played well at the PGC in the past and that kind of helped heading into this week. I finished fourth here back in 2019 having shot a seven-under in one of the rounds. I also made three eagles in my opening round at the same event,” the PGTI quoted him as saying in a release.

“I was hitting it well so kept landing it close to the green on the par-5s and made some good chips from there to create chances. It was quite windy today but the wind didn’t create too many doubts for me because it was one-way and not swirling around. I felt the wind was predictable so one could commit to a shot.

“During the strict lockdown in my hometown Mysuru when I was housebound, I set up a practice net in my backyard and practiced my hitting and chipping daily. Importantly, that kept me in touch with the game and contributed to my good ball-striking since the resumption of the season last week.”

Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan mixed six birdies with a bogey during his 67. His round featured some quality approach shots and up and downs. He closed the day with a 15-feet birdie conversion on the ninth.

Sunit Chowrasia too had six birdies and a bogey while Veer Ahlawat sank seven birdies against two bogeys to share second-place along with ‘ashid. Chandigarh’s Ranjit Singh was the highest-placed Tricity golfer as he shot a 68 to occupy the fifth position.

Defending champion Akshay Sharma of Chandigarh and Gurugram-based Manu Gandas, winner on the PGTI last week, were both placed tied 26th with scores of 72.