13 October 2022: Former champions Karandeep Kochhar and Chikkarangappa S fired scores of seven-under 65 to take the joint lead on day one of the Jeev Milkha Singh Invitational presented by TAKE, a Rs. 1.5 crore event being played at the Chandigarh Golf Club.
Local favourite Karandeep, the 2020 champion, scored eight birdies in exchange for a bogey on Thursday while Bengaluru’s Chikkarangappa, the winner of the inaugural edition in 2018, produced a bogey-free round.
Veer Ahlawat was placed third at 66 while the seasoned Jyoti Randhawa, Sandeep Singh and Chandigarh’s Aadil Bedi were a further shot back in tied fourth position.
Karandeep Kochhar, winner of the individual and team gold medals for Chandigarh at the National Games last week, started the tournament on a positive note with a great approach shot on the first hole that landed about four feet from the pin and led to a birdie. However, the highlight of Kochhar’s round was his terrific par save on the fourth hole from 15 feet after his second shot had led to a plugged lie in the bunker. The par save on the fourth provided the spark for Karandeep’s round that later featured seven more birdies. The 20-feet birdie conversion on the last hole gave Kochhar the much-needed momentum for the second round.
Karandeep said, “The victory in Ahmedabad last week was important for my confidence as I missed the cut the previous week in Taiwan. I was good from tee to green today hitting most fairways and greens and giving myself a lot of birdie opportunities. That will be my gameplan this week, to keep it in play and get as close as possible and try making the putts.
“The feeling of being back home and playing on your home turf is always an advantage. I’ve not played here at Chandigarh Golf Club for a month and a half now but one never really loses the feel at home. The fact that I’ve won this event in the past and also come close to winning on a couple of other occasions further adds to my confidence.”
Chikkarangappa began his day with some long birdie conversions on the front-nine and ended it with birdies on the last three holes where he landed it close to the pins.
“I was just trying to focus on repeating what I did in 2018 at this course when I won this event. I will try to play each hole just like I did back in 2018. That’s something I discussed with my caddie before the start of the event,” said Chikkarangappa.
Among the other prominent names, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rahil Gangjee were tied 13th at 69, SSP Chawrasia, Rashid Khan and Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu were tied 25th at 70 and Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu, the 2019 winner, was tied 48th at 71.
Tournament host and Indian golfing great Jeev Milkha Singh began the event with a 77 to be tied 114th.
Defending champion Shiv Kapur withdrew from the tournament due to a back injury.