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Shubhankar sparkles with 8-under 64, grabs round 1 lead

Shubhankar sparkles with 8-under 64, grabs round 1 lead
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Teenager Shubhankar Sharma posted a blistering eight-under 64 to take the pole position in round one of the Rs.1.5 crore McLeod Russel Tour Championship at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) on Thursday.

S Chikkarangappa carded 66 to end the opening day of the richest-ever domestic event to be staged in India in second place after the first round of the year-ending event of the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI). 

Shubhankar, who at 17 years became the youngest winner on the PGTI at Kochi in April, was in sublime form as he produced an incredible nine birdies against a lone bogey. The 18-year-old was off to a solid start with three birdies on the first five holes including a chip-in on the fifth. Shubhankar made the turn at five-under after two birdie conversions from 10 to 12 feet on the seventh and ninth.
His only bogey of the day came in the 10th but he came back stronger with four successive birdies from the 15th to the 18th. He sank a 20-footer on the 17th and landed it close to the flag on the 16th and 18th. “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the week. I was striking it well and converting all opportunities on the greens. I've not been doing well in the opening rounds of late but today I managed to overcome that problem,” said Shubhankar, currently ranked 11th in the Rolex Rankings.

Chikkarangappa got a head-start in the race for the Rolex Player of the Year title after his opening round of six-under 66. Chikka, now placed second in the Rolex Rankings, ended the day in the second slot, opening a huge gap between himself and front-runner Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow who shot a one-over 73 to be tied 27th.

Chikkarangappa’s 66 featured an eagle, five birdies and a bogey. The 2014 Super Series champion almost holed out from 140 yards to set-up a tap-in birdie on the 11th. He also landed it within 10 feet from 220 yards for eagle on the 15th. 
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