26 December 2019: On a perfect day for golf at the Golmuri Golf Club in Jamshedpur, Kapil Kumar made the most of benign scoring conditions to take a one-stroke lead in the PGTI Tata Steel Tour Championship. The final event of the PGTI calendar has a star-studded field of the best golfers in the region. SSP Chawrasia offered lessons in measured accuracy, producing a clean 63 to trail the lead. Shankar Das, Md Zamal Hossain Mollah and Khalin Joshi planted themselves in the chasing pack at 8-under 64. Rashid Khan joined the trio later in the day with a blazing run of birdies at the end.
Kapil had a clean sheet, scoring four on the front nine before bringing his bag home with six more birdies on the return stretch. The 27-year-old from the Delhi Golf Club has enjoyed a couple of top tens this season, both in Kolkata. He is still searching for his first victory on the PGTI Tour. All four men in third place also enjoyed a clean run through this iconic course in the steel city.
“I’ve drawn a lot of confidence from my performances over the last two weeks. I shot four low scores and was the leader for the first three rounds in Kolkata and the halfway leader in Bengaluru,” said Kapil Kumar.
“I feel I’m continuing from where I left in Bengaluru only my chipping seems to be better now. I’m more comfortable with my chip shots, an aspect that troubled me over the last two weeks. I’ve worked on my chipping in the intervening period between the last event and this event.
“Putting I feel will hold the key this week. I need to keep putting well just like I did today. My best birdie today was the 15-feet conversion on the 16th.”
SSP Chawrasia, playing the tournament on a special invitation, made an eagle at the second hole and six other birdies to go eight-under through twelve holes. A birdie on the 18th helped him move just one behind Kapil. His nephew, Sunit Chawrasia emulated his uncle with an eagle on the second and came home with a clean 68. Jeev Milkha Singh showed his class with a brilliant 66, despite being set back by a pair of birdies at 6 & 7.
Jyoti Randhawa also had a good day, getting off to a flyer before reaching the clubhouse in the serene calm of nine straight pars. He was four-under through the first four holes, with an eagle at the third, sandwiched between birdies.
“I’m playing with a lot of confidence having retained my European Tour card recently. This week I’m also feeling the positive effects of having previously won three titles in Jamshedpur. A good result here would help me end the year on a high and just give me that much-needed momentum for next year,” said Chawrasia.
“I performed well in all aspects of the game today and the good start to the round set it up nicely for me. A lot has changed at Golmuri since I last played here. The layout is totally different now except for a couple of holes. The course is a lot tighter and narrower than before and therefore more challenging.”
Order of Merit on the line
Rashid Khan and Chikkarangappa are contesting not only for the title, but also the honour of being the order of merit winner. Playing with great calm and confidence, Rashid produced three birdies on either side as he reached 6-under through 15 holes. He got going with three straight birdies from the second, before finishing the day with five birdies in the last seven holes for a well made 64.
Chikkarangappa was two-under through ten holes before a bogey at the eleventh tempered his run. He came home with no damage though as he got his campaign on the way with a 71.
Honey Baisoya and Chiragh Kumar were tied together at 65. The latter set a scorching pace before a pair of bogeys late in the round stole his momentum. He made seven birdies in eight holes as he raced through the front nine in just 29 strokes. But a sedate run on the way home, dampened by those bogeys left him settling for a 65. Baisoya made four birdies in the last five holes and an eagle at the third during his brilliant round.
A bunch of 66s brought up the rear end of the top ten – Angad Cheema set up his clean run on the foundation of an eagle at the second hole. N Thangaraja also had an eagle, his coming at the third hole. Om Prakash Chouhan started the day with a bogey, but that did nothing to dampen his spirits. Jeev enjoyed two hat-tricks on the day, serving up his birdies in bunches. Gaganjeet Bhullar also started with a bogey, but he fueled his ride with four birdies in six holes right on the bend.
There are 14 golfers within four strokes off the lead, packing the top ten with a multitude of possibilities for a potentially thrilling week in Jamshedpur.