With rain taking away nine holes, the PGTI Cochin Masters which began at the CIAL Golf and Country Club on Wednesday had a sort of Twenty20 feel.
With just nine holes in every round on the par-36 course at Nedumbassery and without a qualification cut to worry about, aggressive, attacking golf was on view. And at the end of the first round, Delhi’s Rashid Khan, who has had a wonderful season so far, and Mumbai’s Anil Bajrang Mane were on top of the leaderboard in this season’s second super series event.
The two shot scores of four-under 32. Gurgaon’s Shubhankar Sharma, Delhi’s Gulfam, Faridabad’s Abhinav Lohan, Lucknow’s Sanjay Kumar and Chandigarh’s Randhir Singh Ghotra jointly held the third spot with three-under 33.
“Since the cut is not being applied here, I knew there was nothing to lose and played aggressively,” said Mane.
That also gave him more confidence. “My feel is coming back, I’m hitting well on the fairway. Now I can control my shots better,” said the 32-year-old. “This is a very good course, I like the kind of slow greens and the weather too is like in Mumbai. It suits me.”
Mane began the event with a 15-feet birdie on the 10th but he dropped a stroke immediately after on the 11th after finding the hazard.
However, it did not take him long to get into the groove which he did with a chip-in for birdie on the 12th. He had three successive birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th.
Meanwhile, reigning Rolex Rankings champion Rashid Khan landed it within six feet for birdies on the 11th and 14th. The 23-year-old’s second shot stopped within three feet of the flag on the par-5 16th and thus set up a tap-in for eagle.
Anirban Lahiri and Rahil Gangjee were among a total of 11 players who ended the day in tied eighth with scores of two-under 34.
“When you play only 36 holes you’ve got to be a little more aggressive,” said Lahiri who had birdies on the 11th and 16.
“When you play 72 holes, a lot of time you play more percentage golf but here I pretty much hit driver everywhere apart from the last hole.
“I probably would have done differently if it was 72 holes. So, you have to play a little more aggressive, got to try and get birdies because there are not that many holes.”
The scores: 32: Rashid Khan & Anil Bajrang Mane; 33: Shubhankar Sharma, Gulfam, Abhinav Lohan, Sanjay Kumar and Randhir Singh Ghotra.