April 12, 2017: Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu, Delhi’s Shivendra Singh Sisodia and Sudhir Sharma of Greater Noida took the opening day honours at the PGTI Cochin Masters presented by CIAL Golf Club 2017. The trio shot scores of five-under-67 to lead by two strokes.
Defending champion Feroz Ali Mollah fired a three-under-69 to be placed tied fourth along with Om Prakash Chouhan, M Dharma, Amardip Sinh Malik, Deepinder Singh Kullar and Dipankar Kaushal.
Ajeetesh Sandhu, currently second in the PGTI Order of Merit, carried forward the momentum from the season’s previous events with a flawless 67. Sandhu, who has one win and two other top-5s in his four starts so far this season, picked up his first shot of the week with a 20-feet conversion on the fourth. The 28-year-old added four more birdies to his card thanks to two 10-feet conversions and a couple of quality chip-putts.
Ajeetesh, who also has a partial card on the Japan Golf Tour this year, said, “It’s been a great first half for me on the PGTI so far. I also played well in my first event on the Japan Golf Tour last week. I battled extremely tough weather conditions at the tournament played near Osaka in Japan. It was cold, windy and it rained. But I did well to make the cut and finish 50th.
“The conditions in Kochi this week are exactly the opposite of what I encountered last week. In that sense, I think I’ve made a pretty good start. The CIAL Golf Club is playing better and tougher than ever before. The fairways and greens are softer this time around and the course is playing to its true yardage. The trees have grown now and there is greater risk on missing the fairways.
“A couple of good weeks on the PGTI would give me the much-needed boost before I return to Japan for a string of events beginning in June.”, said Ajeetesh Sandhu.
Shivendra Singh Sisodia was part of the first round joint lead at the CIAL Golf Club for the second year running. Sisodia, playing at one of his favourite courses, began with three birdies on the first four holes. He dropped a stroke on the fifth but rallied with three more birdies on the back nine.
Sisodia said, “I had started the week with a four-under last year and this year too I’ve had a solid start. I really like the layout here. I feel long and narrow courses such as this one give me the freedom to hit it long as driving has always been my strength.
“I was quite accurate with the irons today having landed it within three feet of the pin on five occasions. That helped set up a lot of birdies for me. I played my first full season on the PGTI last year and had a decent 39th place finish in the Order of Merit. This year the aim is to improve on my position in the money list and win an event. Hopefully, I can build on this start and post a top finish this week.”
Sudhir Sharma, like Sisodia, also produced six birdies and a bogey on day one, to take a share of the lead. Sudhir’s round featured two birdie conversions from 20 to 25 feet and a missed eagle opportunity from five feet on the 16th.
“My fourth place finish at Kochi last year is my best result on the PGTI till date. So I’m quite confident playing at this venue. I drove well today, hitting 13 out of 14 fairways. I’m working on my returning to my old swing after a year’s gap and things are beginning to fall in place for me now,” said Sudhir.
M Anand was the highest-placed among the three local professionals in the field. He shot a 79 to be tied 102nd. The other two Kochi-based professionals, Vivek V S (81) and Madesh K (85) occupied tied 115th place and tied 122nd place respectively.