Bangalore: Indian golfer S. Chikka took advantage of his home course knowledge by firing a flawless eight-under-par 64 to grab the opening honours at the inaugural India Masters here on Wednesday.
Thailand's Pijit Petchkasem stayed in touch with Chikka by mixing his card with nine birdies against a double-bogey six to take second place while India's Abhishek Jha was a shot further back in third place after he signed for a 66 at the Eagleton Golf Resort.
Ireland's Niall Turner, who is part of the international cast of players to take their place at the first Asian Development Tour (ADT) event in India, carded a 67 to share fourth place with three others at the $70,000 event.
After returning from Macau where he missed the cut last week, Chikka's opening day's effort brought back his smiles. Chikka, however, believes it is still early days and knows he has to continue to step up his game in order to compete with the region's best.
"This week is a good opportunity for me to get my game back onto the next level as it's an ADT event. I've played in three events on the Asian Tour this year and have only made the cut once. It's a totally different level of competition on the Asian Tour but thankfully we have events like this on the ADT to develop ourselves into better players," said Chikka.
Meanwhile Turner, who is chasing his second ADT win, stumbled early with a bogey-five on the second hole but redeemed himself quickly with a birdie on seven before going on to post an eagle-three on 10 and further birdies on 11, 15 and 17.
The 31-year-old has already notched up one ADT win and four top-10s this season. Ranked third on the ADT money list, the Irishman is also within sights of earning his place on the Asian Tour next season as only top-5 finishers on the Order of Merit will earn their Asian Tour cards for 2015.
"I'm almost there. If I can maintain the consistency that I've shown throughout the year, I should be fine. It's a privilege to be able to play in this inaugural ADT event in India and it's definitely a sign that the ADT is growing from strength to strength," said Turner.
India Masters has raised the 2014 ADT schedule to an unprecedented 21 tournaments which includes 12 tournaments in Malaysia, three in Chinese Taipei, three in the Philippines and two in Indonesia. Since last year, all ADT events also receive Official World Golf Ranking points.
64 - S. Chikka (IND)
65 - Pijit Petchkasem (THA)
66 - Abhishek Jha (IND)
67 - M. Dharma (IND), Niall Turner (IRL), Deepinder Singh Kullar (IND), Khalin Joshi (IND)
68 - Abhishek Kuhar (IND), Suppakorn Uthaipat (THA)
69 - N. Thangaraja (SRI), Manav Jaini (IND), C. Muniyappa (IND) Himmat Rai (IND), Kapil Kumar (IND), Honey Baisoya (IND), Srikanta M. (IND)
74 - S.S.P. Chowrasia (IND)