Anika Varma makes an opening round 74 at Union Hills

Anika Varma shot three birdies and five bogeys in an eventful first round at the Union Hills Country Club

Anika Varma is lying T7 in Queen Sirikit Cup

13 April 2020: The world is in a lockdown and the spread of corona virus leaves us all in a limbo. But there is still some sport on the course. The Cactus Tour, a golf circuit based in Arizona is hosting a three day event this week in Arizona. Anika Varma, 16-year-old amateur, works with Noah Montgomery and plays on the circuit. She posted a 74 on Monday, four behind the leader Sarah Burnham.

Anika Varma during the first round at Union Hills
Anika Varma during the first round at Union Hills – Pic: Noah Montgomery

Anika has been on a good run on the Cactus Tour. She started out in the tenth event on the Cactus calendar, at the Moon Valley Country Club, where she finished 1-under 215 for T13. At the Sundance Golf Club next week, Varma finished in T2 with a 74 in the final round. She finished T9 at the Sun City Country Club with a two-under 70 in the third round. At Apache Creek last week, Anika shot 71 and 70 to finish in T5.

On Monday, the teenaged India was upended early when she conceded bogeys at the second and third holes. She conceded another bogey on the par-3 7th hole, but regained the loss with her first birdie of the day at the 348 yard 8th hole.

Noah Montgomery coaches Anika Varma in the United States
Noah Montgomery coaches Anika Varma in the United States

After turning at two-over, Anika slipped further back when she conceded back to back bogeys at the 13th and 14th holes. But the tenacious golfer bounced back at the par-5 16th and the 368 yard 17th holes to end the day on her own terms.

Burnham, winner of two of the last three Cactus Tour events continued her good vein of form, starting with a two-under 70 for a one-stroke advantage over Sophia Popov. Only five golfers managed to play even or better, with three women in T3 at 72.

Anika is in T8 with Tara Finigan of Boise, Idaho. The young Indian is based on Roseville, California. Burnham shot four birdies and two bogeys in one of only two rounds under par. Popov is the other golfer, with the German shooting 71.