On a day when under par scores dominated the proceedings, Kolkata's Rafique Ali fired a course record-setting nine-under 61 to assume the opening round lead at the DDA Open Golf Championship 2005, being played at the Par-70 Qutab Golf Course, the first and only public golf course in India.
The event forms the 18th leg of the Amby Valley PGAI Golf Tour.
Following Rafique by a stroke difference is city-mate Yusuf Ali and Bangalore-based C. Muniyappa.
Ashok Kumar, who is currently placed second in the Amby Valley PGAI Tour Order of Merit, occupied the fourth position a stroke behind Yusuf and Muniyappa. Money Leader in the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05, Mukesh Kumar was placed in sixth place along with amateur Vikrant Chopra as they submitted cards of six under 64.
Kolkata-based pro Rafique Ali, who started his day on the 10th tee, hit an eagle on his very second hole, which added a lot of confidence within him as it was clearly evident from his card of nine under 61.
With three more birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th hole, Rafique was already five under at the turn. He added four more birdies, which came on the third, seventh, eighth and ninth holes, thus finishing off with a bogey free round.
"My game was really good today as I played with a lot of confidence," said the 36-year old. The course is well-maintained and playing on a public course for the first time is a whole new experience.
"But one thing I must mention is that this course is very well-designed which makes it a little bit tricky too," said the golfer in praise of the Qutab Golf Course, the only public course in the country.
Muniyappa, who hit seven birdies along with an eagle on the eighth hole, missed the chance to tie for the lead as he started his day with a bogie on the first hole.
"My putting was very good today. I also hit the ball very well," said a visibly elated Muniyappa on his round of 62.
The DDA Open Golf Championship 2005 has indeed shown a new trend to Indian golf as the projected cut after day one is assumed to be below par.
In a field of 110 golfers, that included a total of 101 professional golfers along with nine amateurs, 65 golfers broke par, which included four amateurs.
Meanwhile, Vikrant Chopra, who is currently placed fifth on the Royal Challenge Indian Golf Tour, led the amateurs' field as he submitted a card of six under 64 to be tied at the fifth spot along with Mukesh Kumar.
Top scores (after 18 holes): 61_Rafique Ali; 62_C.Muniyappa, Yusuf Ali; 63_Ashok Kumar; 64_Mukesh Kumar, Vikrant Chopra (A); 65_Harinder Gupta, Indrajit Bhalotia, Md.Salim, Anura Rohana, Rajesh Rawat, SSP Chowrasia, Sanjay Kumar, Vishal Singh.