Sanjay Kumar overshadowed his more fancied compatriot and defending champion Vijay Kumar to grab the first day's honours in the Rs One million Hero Honda Open West 2005 at the picturesque Poona Club Golf Course on Tuesday.
The Lucknow pro submitted a card of four-under 67 to set up a one-stroke lead over Ranjit Singh of Chandigarh.
The event forms the 13th leg of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour.
Ranjit Singh, accompanied by his charming wife Navjot -- fondly called Ruby, fired eight birdies yet went home with a card of three-under par 68 to be placed joint-second with Asian Tour regular Arjun Singh.
Mukesh Kumar began his quest for his fourth title of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season with a neatly compiled two-under par 69 along with the two Kumars - Ashok and Vijay, the Ali siblings from Kolkata Feroz and Rafick, Jaiveer Virk, Naman Dawar, Vinod Kumar and Praduman Singh Guleria, who all were tied for the fourth place.
Sanjay Kumar, currently sixth on the Amby Valley PGAI Order of Merit list, made an ominous start with a bogey after straying on his second shot. The stocky golfer, who just turned 33, then began his birdie spree on the par-3 fourth with a calculated six-iron shot that gave him a chance for a three-foot birdie. Adding a birdie on the easy par-5 seventh with a 12-footer, Sanjay finished his front nine with yet another 10-feet birdie to take the turn at two-under.
A superb par saved on the par-3 13th from the greenside bunker gave the confidence for Sanjay to register his fourth birdie of the day on the next hole. A brilliant second shot on the par-4 17th helped Sanjay go four-under for the day.
"I was hitting the ball well. I need to work on my putting," said Sanjay, who had 29 putts for the day.
Meanwhile, Ranjit Singh met with fluctuating fortunes. Successive bogeys on the fourth and fifth were followed by consecutive birdies on the next two holes.
Driving the 348-yard par-4 ninth hole, the lanky lad two-putted for a birdie. The 29-year-old met with similar fate on his back nine despite opening with a birdie on the par-4 10th. His round suffered a set back when he made a bogey followed by a double bogey on the 11th and 12th respectively.
Ranjit Singh, who is ninth on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour Order of Merit List, then registered a hat-trick of birdies beginning from the 14th. Attacking the pin, Ranjit reached the difficult par-5 finishing hole in two but missed the 15-feet eagle putt and settled for a birdie.
"I am disappointed because I could have finished with a big score," said the ever-smiling pro.
Pros (after 18 holes): 67_Sanjay Kumar; 68_Ranjit Singh, Arjun Singh; 69_Mukesh Kumar, Feroz Ali, Jaiveer Virk, Ashok Kumar, Vijay Kumar, Naman Dawar, Rafiq Ali, Vinod Kumar; 70_Vikramjit Singh, Ajay Gupta, Shiv Kapur, Mohd. Islam, Roop Singh, R Srinivas, Digvijay Singh.
Amateurs: 69_Jaideep Patwardhan; 73_Tarun Gogle.