Avantha Masters: Gangjee tied 3rd after strong start

Rahil Gangjee's near-flawless round sent him soaring to tied third but the 'Big Three' of Indian golf had a rather mundane start to their Avantha Masters campai

Updated: February 12, 2010 16:19 IST
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Gurgaon:Rahil Gangjee's near-flawless round sent him soaring to tied third but the 'Big Three' of Indian golf had a rather mundane start to their Avantha Masters campaign in the USD 2.1 million tri-sanctioned event here on Thursday.

Thirty-two-year-old diminutive Kolkata pro Gangjee, yet to add to his surprise triumph in the 2004 Volkswagen Masters-China, brought home a scintillating five-under 67 to lie three shots off the lead at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

Two shots behind at tied 19th were rising duo of Gaganjeet Bhullar and C Muniyappa, who won their maiden Asian Tour title last year.

It was, however, a rather average start for world number 59 Jeev Milkha Singh -- highest ranked golfer in the event --former Asia number one Arjun Atwal and Indian stalwart Jyoti Randhawa who turned in identical even-par 72s to lie tied 57th.

Searching for his second European Tour title, 29-year-old German Marcel Siem eagled his final hole en route to a bogey-free eight-under 64 that earned him a one-shot lead over Chinese Taipei's Chan Yin-shin, who eagled his ninth hole.

Among other Indians in the fray, 2008 Indian Masters winner SSP Chowrasia was tied 74th after going one-over 73, while European Tour regular Shiv Kapur was languishing at tied 111st after stuttering to four-over 76.

Worse happened with Gaurav Ghei, who is certain to miss the cut after going six-over 78 that had him at 120th.

Among the Indians, Gangjee shone the brightest on Thursday.

Apart from the 16th hole bogey, the Kolkata pro did not put a foot wrong and his flawless front nine -- studded with three birdies -- set the tone for his round.

Three-under at the turn, Gangjee birdied the 12th hole before dropping his lone bogey on the 16th.

Gangjee, however, made amends by signing off on a birdie-birdie note to settle for a five-under card.

Bhullar too got off to a great start and was four-under after 11 holes before the par-four 12th hole cost him two strokes.

The in-form Indian, who began this year with a stunning come-from-behind triumph in the Asian Tour International in Bangkok, signed off with a birdie to lie five shots off lead.

In contrast, Muniyappa's was a less eventful round. The caddie-turned-pro, who had a fairytale triumph at the same course last year when he won the Indian Open, began with a birdie and picked up one more shot on the 17th hole to be two-under at the turn.

He nailed two more birdies in the front nine but dropped a bogey as well to join Bhullar at the 19th place.

The star Indians, however, found going tough in the event tri-sanctioned by Asian Tour, European Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

Top draw Jeev bogeyed his opening hole and was one-over at the turn and while he did sink three birdies on his way back, a couple of bogeys also came along to deny him a sub-par card.

Tenth tee starter Atwal, trying to put behind the shoulder injury that blighted his PGA Tour campaign, began with a birdie and picked up another shot on the third hole but had to be content with an even-par card because of a couple of bogeys in between.

Randhawa was one-under after 17 holes but the final hole bogey undid the good work and he too had to be satisfied with a level-par card.

Among the foreigners, two-time PGA Tour winner Darren Clarke's modest one-under 71 had him at tied 36th.

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