Karandeep Kochhar of Chandigarh, riding on the confidence of recently having sealed his Asian Tour card for next year, got off to a flying start with a six-under 66 for the day one lead at the TATA Steel PGTI’s inaugural SSP Chawrasia Invitational presented by TAKE, a Rs. 1 crore event, being played at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC).
Abhinav Lohan of the DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurugram, shot a 67 to occupy second place.
Gaganjeet Bhullar fired a 69 to be tied eighth along with Manu Gandas, who is currently placed second in the TATA Steel PGTI Rankings.
TATA Steel PGTI Rankings leader Yuvraj Singh Sandhu was a further shot behind in tied 12th position.
Tournament host SSP Chawrasia, Anirban Lahiri and Ajeetesh Sandhu were tied 19th with matching scores of 71. Shankar Das too shot a 71 to be the highest-placed among the Kolkata golfers along with SSP Chawrasia.
Karandeep Kochhar didn’t look out of sorts despite returning to play at the RCGC after a long gap of five years. The 23-year-old four-time winner on the PGTI had an initial stutter when he bogeyed the 11th but got on a roll after his 30-feet birdie conversion on the 13th. Among Karandeep’s six other birdies were two 15-feet conversions. Kochhar, currently fifth on the PGTI’s money list, also picked up shots on both the par-5s, 15th and fourth.
Kochhar said, “I’m carrying the momentum after having played well in Asia to lock my card for next season. That was in fact my biggest goal this year. I got going on the 13th where I holed a long putt on probably one of the toughest holes here at the RCGC. The birdie on the 13th kickstarted my round. The putter was also cooperative today and I hit the ball good, not leaving myself too many tough putts for pars.
“It’s fun to be back here at RCGC where I won the All India Amateur back in 2017 which I consider one of my most special weeks. The golf course is in great condition and we’re all happy to be here celebrating SSP and his legacy and what he’s done for the sport in India. A big thank you to TAKE Sports, which has supported me in the past, for sponsoring this event.”
Abhinav Lohan got off to a slow start with bogeys on his first two holes, the 10th and 11th, but came roaring back with three birdies and an eagle on the next four holes. Abhinav’s accurate approach shot left him a tap-in birdie on the 14th while he drained a 40-footer for eagle on the 15th. Lohan added three more birdies and a bogey on the back-nine.