Gagan shoots even par, leads by three at NCR Cup

December 9th, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) Gagan Verma, the current leader on the Indian Amateur Order of Merit, justified his seeding as he opened a three-shot lead at the end of the first round of the Gannon Dunkerley NCR Cup & Delhi State Championship at the Delhi Golf Club Tuesday.Gagan, who has been very consistent through the season, shot an even par round, on a day when none of the 52 starters went under par.

Gagan was followed by Arshdeep Tiwana, Rakesh Kumar and Rudresh Sharma. The trio shot three-over par 75 to be tied second.

However, defending champion Rashid Khan, also a winner of the Faldo Series Asia, faltered on the opening day with an eight-over 80 that placed tied 22nd and left a lot to be done to ensure a good week.

The top two amateurs in the 52-man field will qualify for the two berths available at the Swiss Amateur championships from this tournament.

Gagan, who knows the Delhi Golf Club course layout very well, having played here regularly, had three birdies and one bogey on the front nine, which he completed two-under par. On the back nine, he dropped two bogeys and finished at 72.

A long-hitter Gagan opened the day with a birdie on the par 5 first and then added two more on the fourth and par-5 8th holes. In between, he dropped a shot on the seventh. On the return journey, he dropped bogeys on the 11th and the 18th.

“I am satisfied with my round. The greens were a bit patchy and not playing so good because of the winters. Winters are usually tough for the grass and I hope it gets better over the next few days” said Gagan.

Defending Champion Rashid Khan struggled through the day and ended with an eight-over 80, which made his task of taking the title for the second year difficult. Unable to find the greens and visiting the bushes far too often, he also had problems on the green. He managed just one birdie through the day on the first, but thereafter was never in the frame.

Disappointed after his round, he said, “I just could not find the rhythm. Things did not work for me. I am hoping for a better round tomorrow.”

Rashid birdied the first but gave it away immediately with a double bogey on the very next hole. He then dropped bogeys on third, sixth, seventh, ninth and on the back nine, he seemed to be doing fine with six pars in a row. Then right at the end, he collapsed again with three straight bogeys on the 16th , 17th, and 18th.

A total of 52 players started and the top 36 will make the cut for the final two rounds.

The winner of the Ballantines longest hitter of the day was Rahul Bajaj with a drive of 282 yards. He was followed by Surya Vijay Singh with a drive of 270 yards.

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