Manu Gandas of Gurugram, a winner of four titles this season, continued his red-hot form with a fiery nine-under 63, to take the day one lead at the inaugural Vooty Masters here on Thursday.
In the process, Gandas, currently second on the PGTI Order of Merit, also set the course record at the first-ever PGTI event being played at the Vooty Golf County here.
Chandigarh’s Angad Cheema and Gurugram-based Kartik Sharma trailed Gandas by two strokes, having carded identical scores of seven-under 65 for a share of second spot. One stroke behind the duo were a bunch of four golfers sharing the fourth spot, including Varun Parikh, Om Prakash Chouhan, Arjun Bhati and Kshitij Naveed Kaul.
Teeing off just before noon at the pristine Vooty Golf County, Gandas logged a bogey-free round as he sunk four birdies on the front-nine and five on the back-nine, in a flawless display. Gandas’ awesome hitting saw him set up a number of short birdie putts. His longest conversion of the day was a 25-footer on the sixth.
On a course where the players are finding it tough to negotiate the thick rough, Gandas helped his cause by finding 10 out of the 14 fairways and 14 greens in regulation. His golden stretch came with three consecutive birdies from the 14th to the 16th as he chipped-in from the bunker on the 14th, drove past the par-4 green on the 15th for an up-and-down and then made an up-and -down from the bunker on the 16th.
Manu Gandas said, ‘My driving off the tee was quite good and my putting was also better than the past two weeks. I also made some good up-and-downs today. The chip-in from the bunker on the 14th really got me going today as I followed it up with three more birdies in quick succession.
‘I feel this is a risk-reward course. If you take the risk, you will be rewarded. But at the same time you have to be wary of the challenges posed by the thick rough. I’m in a good mental space at the moment. It’s now about sticking to the process and being patient and the results should then follow.’
Angad Cheema and Kartik Sharma, both in joint second at 65, also shot error-free rounds.
PGTI Order of Merit leader and five-time winner this season Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, was tied eighth at 67. The Chandigarh golfer mixed an eagle and six birdies with three bogeys on Thursday.
Aadil Bedi, another Chandigarh-based pro, fired a hole-in-one on the second hole during his round of 67 to also be placed tied eighth along with Yuvraj and Karan Taunk.
Ajeetesh Sandhu, one of the pre-event favourites, was tied 22nd with a score of 70.
Mohd Azhar, playing at his home course, returned a 72, to be the highest-placed local golfer at tied 45th.