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Mukesh, Shiv in joint lead
November 24, 2004 16:29 IST
Mukesh Kumar and Shiv Kapur, the second and third-ranked golfers on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour, surged into a joint-opening round lead with identical cards of five-under 67 in the Rs One million Indian Oil Servo Masters Golf 2004, being played at the par-72, Digboi Club Golf Links, on Wednesday.
As many as six golfers, including Harinder Gupta, Amritinder Singh, Yusuf Ali, Sandeep Syal, Bhoop Singh and Randhir Ghotra , were tied third at two-under 70.
It is never too easy for any man at the helm to settle for a lower position. Mukesh Kumar is no exception. The three-time Amby Valley PGAI Tour Order of Merit winner has for the past two seasons been overshadowed by Delhi's Ashok Kumar. The Indian Oil Servo Masters has proved lucky for Mukesh on two occasions, once when he won it for the first ever time in 2001 and the following year when he completed a successful title defense.
This time round Mukesh is determined to add another win at the Digboi Club Golf Links to his kitty. And, to top it all, Tour leader Ashok is not playing.
Mukesh made his intent rather clear early today, when he birdied the par-4 first, his opening hole. The 38-year-old ended his outward journey with another birdie on the ninth. Two under on the tenth tee box, Mukesh sank a ten feet birdie putt on the tenth, returned his fourth birdie of the day on the 13th before using his driver to good effect to eagle the following hole.
His only error of the day came on the 17th. On that occasion, a misdirected 2-iron off the tee landed the Mhow golfer in a hazard. Using his pitching wedge to get out, Mukesh took another shot to get to the green, before missing a ten feet par putt.
"I played sensible golf today, with an emphasis on ball placement. This is what is required at the Digboi Club Golf Links," said Mukesh.
"I predict an interesting contest between Shiv and me over the next three days. Shiv is a very steady player and it will be a challenging duel," he added.
Shiv Kapur played with a minor 'handicap' today. The 22-year old had a sore shoulder after hours spent playing cricket on Tuesday.
"I played continuously for nearly three hours which took a toll on my shoulder muscles. As a result of this my swing was only 50 per cent effective today," smiled Shiv.
Despite his physical condition, Shiv Kapur put the rest of the field to the sword with a superb round of 67. Shiv, who like Mukesh shot a six-under 66 in the pro-am, started his opening round on the tenth tee. A birdie on the 11th was the only highlight of his front-nine. After making the turn, Shiv was on fire, reeling off birdies on the first, third, seventh and ninth.
"I played the par-fives well today but my putting calls for a lot of improvement," he said. "I just planned to give myself as many chances as I could today and that helped," he concluded.
Baruah leads amateur field: Ajay Baruah shot an 87 to lead the amateur field.
SCORE(after 18 holes): 67 Mukesh Kumar, Shiv Kapur; 70 Sandeep Syal, Bhoop Singh, Randhir Ghotra, Harinder Gupta, Amritinder Singh, Yusuf Ali; 71 Gurki Shergill, Mohd. Khokhan; 72 Mohd. Islam, Gast Ram, Feroz Ali, Ali Sher, DS Raghuvanshi, Vinod Kumar, Arjun Choudhary, Abdul Karim.