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Shiv Kapur dazzles

June 01, 2005 20:53 IST

Shiv Kapur, who is just back from playing four events on the Asian Tour, found similar course conditions at the exotic Amby Valley Golf Course and fired a superb round of 7-under 65 to grab a three-stroke lead in the opening round of the coveted Amby Valley PGA Championship of India, promoted by the PGA of India and supported by Tiger Sports Marketing, at the Amby Valley Sahara Lake city on Wednesday.

Arjun Singh was placed second with a total of four-under 68 while Ashok Kumar was third at 69. As many as four players -- Gaurav Ghei, Harinder Gupta, SSP Chowrasia and Vijay Kumar -- shared the fourth spot with a card of two-under 70.

Asian Tour regular Amandeep Johl submitted a card of 71 to be placed joint-eighth along with Indrajit Bhalotia, Mukesh Kumar and Sri Lankan Anura Rohana.

Shiv Kapur, looking for his third win of the season on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season, was the first to tee off in the morning. After a couple of pars, the 23-year-old began his birdie spree from the par-3 third where he found the putting surface in two and two-putted for a birdie. The Asian Games gold medallist, playing in his rookie season then went on to register three more birdies on the odd holes starting from the fifth, including the par-4 ninth with a 15-footer where the pin was tucked on a slope.

The ever-smiling pro, taking the turn at four-under, was on a slam-making four consecutive birdies beginning from the 11th to be eight-under after 14. The birdie on the par-4 13th was his pick of the day as he found thick rough with his driver. With a perfect sand-wedge, he hit it to six feet and holed the putt for a birdie.

The only blemish of Shiv's record breaking round was on the par-4 17th where he hit it on the right and then found the bunker on his second shot and failed to make an up and down.

"After a disastrous last week, where I finished at the bottom, it is such a relief, said Shiv Kapur after the round.

"The course is in excellent condition and it is one of the best courses that I have played on," he added.

"I was lucky to have played in the morning session when the winds stayed away," said Shiv Kapur, who hit 16 greens today.

Arjun Singh, who is playing in only his eighth tournament of the season on the Amby Valley PGAI Tour, made a good start rolling in pars while occasionally picking up a birdie. After he had saved two strokes on the front nine, the 34-year-old then made an eagle on the par-5 third. A 3-wood, 4-iron approach left him within 20 feet for an eagle. An errant tee shot on the next hole saw the lanky pro losing a stroke for his only bogey of the day. A birdie on the par-3 eight saw him return to the clubhouse in the second position.

"It is tough out there. But I was focused and hit the ball really well," said Arjun, who hit 16 greens-in-regulation.

Last year's Order of Merit winner Ashok Kumar brought in the third best card of the day. A 10th tee starter, Ashok, who began the Amby Valley PGAI Tour 2004-05 season winning five events in a row, made a hat-trick of birdies beginning from the 12th. A bogey on the par-3 15th saw Ashok take the turn at two-under. A couple of more birdies on the 1st and seventh, punctuated with bogey on the third, saw the 23-year-old finish at three-under.

"I had a good all-round game today. I am trying new techniques such as yoga which has taught me to be patient," said Ashok.

Top scores after 18 holes (pros): 65_Shiv Kapur; 68_Arjun Singh; 69_Ashok Kumar; 70_Gaurav Ghei, Vijay Kumar, Harinder Gupta, SSP Chowrasia; 71_Amandeep Johl, Indrajit Bhalotia, Mukesh Kumar, Anura Rohana.

Amateurs: 72_Jaideep Patwardhan; 80_Neel Mundra; 81_Amit Nigam.