Rafique Ali overshadowed compatriot SSP Chaurasia, dominating the first day of the Rs One million Hero Golf Chandigarh Open 2005, being played at the picturesque Par-72 Chandigarh Golf Club.
The Kolkata pro returned a card of seven under 65 leaving himself one stroke ahead of local lad Harinder Gupta as the 16th leg of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour's 2004-05 got underway on Thursday.
Local hero Harinder Gupta returned a card of six under 66 as he fired seven birdies and an eagle to be placed in second spot.
Chaurasia began his quest for a back to back win as he submitted a card of four under 68, being tied with Digvijay Singh for third spot. Money list winner for the Amby Valley PGAI Tour last year Ashok Kumar along with Arjun Chaudhri who also had a bogey free round is in fifth place after submitting a card of three under 69.
Current money list leader Mukesh Kumar is tied for seventh place along with day-one dynamo Pappan, Vishal Singh, Yusuf Ali, Jaiveer Virk and Chini Ali as they all returned cards of two under 70.
Rafique Ali, currently fifth on the Amby Valley PGAI Order of Merit list, made a scintillating start with a bogey-free round. The Kolkat pro came up with seven birdies as he hit two successive birdies on the eighth and ninth holes to finish three under at the end of the front nine.
"While playing the back nine I faced a little problem on the 15th hole because of the narrow fairway", said Rafique.
He finished the back nine after firing four birdies on the 10th, 13th, 16th and 17th.
"The course is very good and very challenging too. My game today has been satisfactory but the score would have been better if I would not have missed the birdie putts on the second and 12th hole," added Rafique.
Bhullar and Wahi lead amateur race: Meanwhile leading amateur golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar finished at the top spot among amateurs along with Raghav Wahi as they submitted cards of one over 73 each.
Pros (after 18 holes): 65_Rafick Ali; 66_Harinder Gupta; 68_SSP Chaurasia, Digvijay Singh; 69_Ashok Kumar,Arjun Chaudhri; 70_Mukesh Kumar, Pappan, Vishal Singh, Yusuf Ali, Jaiveer Virk, Chini Ali, Sheeraz Kalra; 71_ Amit Dube, Amritinder Singh, Arjun Singh, Binod Pandey, Dinesh Kumar, Shamim Khan.
Amateurs (after 18 holes): 73_Raghav Wahi, Gaganjeet Bhullar.