Chandigarh: American Varun Chopra, Gurugram-based Tapy Ghai, Mysuru’s Yashas Chandra and Mohammad Sanju of Kolkata shot scores of four-under 68 to make up the leading quartet on day one of the Rs. 1 crore TATA Steel PGTI Players Championship 2023 presented by Chandigarh Golf Club.
On a windy day, the leaderboard looked packed with seven golfers bunched in tied fifth place just one shot behind the lead at 69.
This chasing pack included Delhi’s Sachin Baisoya who made a hole-in-one on the eighth as well as Chandigarh pros Harendra Gupta, defending champ Yuvraj Singh Sandhu and Akshay Sharma. The three other players in tied fifth were Mari Muthu, Harsh Gangwar and Divyanshu Bajaj.
Inspired by Spaniard Jon Rahm’s winning performance at the Masters last week, rookie Varun Chopra put behind the disappointment of a double-bogey on his opening hole of the tournament with a superb display thereafter as he went on to pick up six birdies.
Chicago-based Varun, a joint runner-up at PGTI’s event in Kolkata in February this year, made three birdie conversions from a range of 15 to 30 feet and also capitalized on two of the par-5s by sinking two-putts for birdies there. The 23-year-old Chopra fired his approach within three feet of the pin for his sixth birdie of the day on the 17th.
Varun, who is staying with family in Chandigarh this week, said, “After making double-bogey on the first hole, I thought about and was inspired by what Jon Rahm did at the Masters last week. Rahm too began the tournament with a double-bogey but then came back fighting with birdies on the next two holes and a score of 65 in the first round which laid the foundation for his victory. That thought gave me a lot of incentive to stay positive.
“I also remember this course well and have a good idea of how to approach it because I had played a PGTI event here in 2021 while still an amateur and had finished as the best amateur and inside the top-30 on that occasion.
“As I’m staying with my grandparents in Chandigarh, I also have the advantage of home comfort. I’m familiar with the city as I’ve been visiting my grandparents in Chandigarh since I was a kid. That helps when you’re far away from home.”
Yashas Chandra and Tapy Ghai both made seven birdies and three bogeys during their first round. Yashas sank a couple of 15-feet birdies. Mohammad Sanju mixed an eagle and four birdies with a double-bogey.
Sachin Baisoya struck a hole-in-one for the second week in succession as he had fired an ace at last week’s tournament in Noida too.
Round 1 Leaderboard:
68: Varun Chopra, Tapy Ghai, Yashas Chandra, Mohammad Sanju
69: Sachin Baisoya, Mari Muthu, Harendra Gupta, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, Akshay Sharma, Harsh Gangwar, Divyanshu Bajaj