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Gangjee leads Gujarat Kensville Challenge Rd 1
Defending champion Ganganjeet Bhullar is three shots behind leader Gangjee, who shot a 4-under 68.
Ahmedabad: Rahil Gangjee raised hopes of another Indian win at the second edition of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge as he turned in an impressive four-under 68 on the opening day to emerge as the sole leader in the European Challenge Tour event here on Thursday.
Defending champion Gaganjeet Bhullar was three shots behind at tied 12th place after a round of 71. Another Indian Shiv Kapur, also making his Challenge Tour debut, shot a bogey-free 69 to share the second place with American Dodge Kemmer and the seasoned Gary Lockerbie.
Gangjee seemed to continue from where he had left off at the Asian Tour Qualifying Final Stage as he moved to six-under over 12 holes, before finally settling for a four-under 68 at the Kensville Golf and Country Club here. He sank seven birdies against three bogeys on the first day.
A group of seven players from six nationalities were bunched together at two-under 70 in tied fifth. The group included Manav Jaini of India, two Swedes - Jens Danthorp and Bjorn Akesson, a South African Tyrone Ferreira, Englishman Seven Benson, German Max Keiffer and Austrian HP Bacher.
Bhullar at tied 12th shared the spot with Chiragh Kumar, winner of the PGTI Order of Merit last season, and Ranjit Singh. Seven other Indians, Mukesh Kumar, Amardip Sinh Malik, Abhinav Lohan, Shamim Khan, Digvijay Singh and Sanjay Kumar shot 72 each and were tied 25th place.
Except for the closing bogey, Gangjee seemed satisfied.
"I had a great opening nine with four birdies (on second, third, sixth and seventh) in first even holes. I was hitting really well and close to the pin," he said.
He added birdies on the 10th and 12th and at six-under, he looked set for a real low number.
"I just wanted to go deeper (lower score) because I have learnt on Nationwide Tour in US to use every opportunity to score good numbers. This was one," he said.
"I got to six-under today it was a good job. I had a few putts but I didn't expect to do that. I hit the ball well and putted really good today, so it's encouraging," he added.
Gangjee gave away bogeys on 13th and 14th but got back one shot on 15th. Then came the last hole bogey.
Despite the last hole bogey, Gangjee was upbeat.
"The bogey on 18 surprised me. I hit a rescue off the tee, don't know how but I went over 300 yards, downwind. I caught it really good. Still I'll take a four-under," he said.
Kapur was especially pleased with his bogey free round, but not so happy with the putting.
He parred the front nine and then the 10th, too. Then came his first birdie on 11th.
"That putt at 11 really got things going, it's quite easy to get frustrated when you're playing well but not holing birdie putts, but I finally got one to drop so that gave me some momentum," he said.
"Then I hit it close on 13th and missed a couple on 16 and 17 but all in all, 11th was the one where I said 'alright you've been playing steady and you've shown some patience and this is the reward'. It was a 20 foot putt."
Talking of the par-fives, Kapur said, "You can't hit 17 in two, nine I just hit 3-wood off the tee so I didn't fancy going for the green because the angle you're coming in, you're going towards the water so I hit five iron. On 14 I hit a five iron and laid up. On the sixth it was into the breeze so didn't go for any of them in two."
Bhullar began with eight successive pars before dropping a shot on the ninth to reach the turn at one-over. His back nine was much more eventful.
He birdied the 12th, 13th and 14th to go two under but mistakes on the 16th and 17th meant he suffered back to back bogeys before a birdie on the final hole helped him to finish at one-under with a 71.
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