Ahmedabad-based Anshul Patel, playing at his home course, along with Patna's Aman Raj fired opening rounds of six-under 66 to emerge as the joint first-round leaders at the Rs. 1 crore Gujarat Open Golf Championship 2023 being played at the Kalhaar Blues & Greens Golf Club here.
Rookie Makoto Iwasaki (68) of Japan was one shot behind the leaders in third place.
Anshul Patel, who began the year with a top-10 at the Qualifying School to regain his PGTI card, was off to a cracking start in his home town as he picked up five shots on the back nine making two long conversions and landed his approach within four feet for an eagle on the par-5 14th, the PGTI informed in a release on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Patel then hit it out of bounds on the third which resulted in a double-bogey for him. Patel then more than made up for the error on the third by adding three more birdies to his card.
Patel said, "It was one of those days where I felt I could've shot anything. I started off really well and had a feeling I could go low after being five-under through the first seven holes.
"I won't say that I have the advantage playing at my home course but I do feel a different kind of comfort at Kalhaar since I play here four to five times a week. On the other hand, on home turf, there is also the added pressure of performing well in the presence of your family and friends and for your home club. So that is something one has to contend with despite having home comfort.
"One has to keep it in play here as all the slopes are in play right now. But there is also more run on the ball on these fairways."
Aman Raj, a winner on the PGTI, had early jitters with bogeys on the second and third holes. Aman then rallied with eight birdies including three on the last three holes. He made five conversions from a range of 10 to 15 feet.
He said, "Things were working for me today. The putts were falling. I just decided to stay calm and patient and was going with the flow and not really think much. Planning and course management are key here. You have to know where your misses are."
Varun Parikh, another local professional, was tied ninth at 70 along with Khalin Joshi. Among the prominent names, Viraj Madappa (73) was tied 33rd, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (74) was tied 45th and Udayan Mane (76) was tied 72nd.
( 450 Words)