Delhi’s Kapil Kumar shot a brilliant nine-under 63 to take the round one lead at the Rs 3 crore TATA Steel Tour Championship 2022, at the Beldih and Golmuri Golf Courses, here.
Shiv Kapur, a winner of six international titles, struck a 64 to be placed second. Shiv’s round featured an albatross on the par-5 ninth hole where he holed his second shot from 240 yards.
Hyderabad’s Mohd Azhar occupied third place at 65.
The first round of the tournament saw one half of the field play their first nine holes at Golmuri Golf Course and second nine at Beldih Golf Course while the other half of the field played Beldih first followed by Golmuri. This format will also be followed for the next three rounds of the tournament in Jamshedpur with the par for the round being 72.
Kapil Kumar, currently 21st in the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings with three top-10s to his credit in the season, fired it close to the hole at Golmuri to pick up three of his four birdies on the front-nine from a range of six feet. Kapil, a runner-up in Pune this year, then sank longer putts on the newly-relaid Beldih to pick up three more birdies. He also made a six-feet eagle conversion on the 12th.
Kapil said, “I got into a good zone after my second birdie of the day on the fourth hole. I was feeling good about my putting at that stage. On the eighth tee, I set myself a target to make birdies on the eighth and ninth so that I can close the front-nine at four-under and then add another four to five birdies on the back-nine to end up with something around eight or nine-under.
“Even after good starts, I tend to lose momentum in the third and fourth rounds. That is something I will look to improve on this week.”
Shiv Kapur, who has been recovering from a rib injury and thus played his first competitive round in over two months, was off to a brisk start with two birdies and an albatross on the ninth at Golmuri. Kapur then added three more birdies at Beldih by sinking a 15-footer on the 11th and landing his approach within inches of the flag on the 15th.
Shiv said, “I surprised myself today with my first competitive round in quite some time and my only goal is to get through the four rounds without much pain. I had a steady start. Then on the ninth hole I had a great yardage, I had 240 yards to the flag. The 5-wood took off on a great line and I did not realize till I was halfway up to the green that I had holed it. It was a perfect shot that set up the rest of the day for me.
“I’m obviously rusty as I haven’t had a lot of time to practice. For me right now my golf fitness isn’t at its best but overall I’m feeling good.
“I like the changes at the Beldih Golf Course. The bunkering is very good as it makes you think off the tee as earlier it was a bit too generous off the tee. With the new greens in place, the shots off the rough are not holding and that requires lot of precision.”
TATA Steel PGTI Rankings leader Manu Gandas shot a 66 to be tied fourth along with Udayan Mane and Chikkarangappa.
Among the prominent names, Jyoti Randhawa (67) was tied seventh, SSP Chawrasia (69) was tied 16th, Ajeetesh Sandhu (70), currently third in the PGTI Order of Merit, was tied 22nd, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (72), currently second in the PGTI Order of Merit, was tied 36th, Gaganjeet Bhullar (76) was tied 69th and Jeev Milkha Singh (79) was tied 73rd.
The two Jamshedpur-based professionals, Karan Taunk (73) and Kurush Heerjee (75) were placed tied 49th and tied 66th respectively.
With a winning purse of Rs 45 lakh at stake, the biggest-ever on the PGTI, it’s going to be a close contest for the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings title between the top three on the Order of Merit – Manu Gandas, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu and Ajeetesh Sandhu.