Anshul Patel of Ahmedabad, playing at his home course, and Patna’s Aman Raj shot opening rounds of six-under 66 to take the lead in the Gujarat Open Golf Championship 2023 at the Kalhaar Blues and Greens Golf Club in Ahmedabad.
Japan’s rookie Makoto Iwasaki (68) finished third, one shot behind the leaders.
Anshul Patel, who began the year by finishing in the top-10 at the Qualifying School to reclaim his PGTI card, got off to a flying start in his hometown, picking up five shots on the back nine with two long conversions and landing his approach within four feet for an eagle on the par-5 14th.
The 27-year-old Anshul then hit it out of bounds on the third which resulted in a double-bogey for him. Patel made up for the error on the third by adding three more birdies to his card.
Anshul said, “It was one of those days where I felt I could’ve shot anything. I started off really well and had a feeling I could go low after being five-under through the first seven holes. I won’t say that I have the advantage playing at my home course but I do feel a different kind of comfort at Kalhaar since I play here four to five times a week. On the other hand, on home turf there is also the added pressure of performing well in the presence of your family and friends and for your home club. So that is something one has to contend with despite having the home comfort. One has to keep it in play here as all the slopes are in play right now. But there is also more run on the ball on these fairways.”
Aman Raj, a winner on the PGTI, had early jitters with bogeys on the second and third holes. Aman then rallied with eight birdies including three on the last three holes. He made five conversions from a range of 10 to 15 feet.
Aman said, “Things were working for me today. The putts were falling. I just decided to stay calm and patient and was going with the flow and not really thinking much. Planning and course management are key here. You have to know where your misses are.”
Varun Parikh, another local professional, was tied ninth at 70 along with Khalin Joshi.
Among the prominent names, Viraj Madappa (73) was tied 33rd, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (74) was tied 45th and Udayan Mane (76) was tied 72nd.