Ace Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh was off to a flying start in his quest to become the first Indian professional to qualify for the top-grade US PGA Tour.
According to information from the PGA West course in La Quinta, California, the Hero Honda-sponsored Jeev shot a three-under 69, which tied him for the 19th place after the first of the stipulated six rounds. He was three shots off the leaders, Steve Gangluff and Aaron Barber, who shot a 6-under-par 66 each on Wednesday.
The final stage of the PGA Tour Q-School, considered one of the most gruelling events in golf, is being played at the TPC Stadium Course and the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course. More than 4,000 hopefuls start the three-stage tournament, with just 170 players making it to the final stage. The top-35 in the Q-School will secure playing privilege on the lucrative PGA Tour and the rest 135 will have some kind of status in the Nationwide Tour, the second grade US PGA Tour.
Jeev, who made it to the final stage last year as well but finished way below, began his round with a bang. After parring the first hole, the tenth of the course, the Chandigarh-based pro made birdies on the par-5 11th, par-4 13th, par-5 15th and the par-4 18th to make the turn at four-under.
A birdie on the par-5 fourth saw him climb up the leaderboard to third place at five-under, but he finished with bogies on the sixth and ninth holes for his three-under 69.
Cameron Yancey, Anthony Painter, Mike Grob, Han Lee and John Morgan are one stroke back after opening with a 5-under-par 67. Bob May, runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 2000 PGA Championship, is one of 11 players two shots off the lead at 4-under-par 68.
Among other well-known names to Indian fans, 1997 Hero Honda Masters winner Ted Purdy and Chris Tidland were tied for the 36th place at two-under 70, while 1996 Indian Open winner Edward Fryatt was way down the list at tied-116th place after opening with a two-over 74.
Scores (after 18 holes): 66 _ Steve Gangluff, Aaron Barber; 67 _ Cameron Yancey, Anthony Painter, Mike Grob, Han Lee, John Morgan; 68 _Richard Johnson, Bob May, Matthew Goggin, Ken Duke, John Elliott, Todd Rose, Ben Bates, Barry Cheesman, Kevin Johnson, Tim Thelen, Robert Conrad.