Jamshedpur, Dec. 17: Abhishek Jha of Bengaluru set the pace in round one of the 14thTata Open as he blasted a remarkable nine-under-63 at the par-71 Golmuri Golf Course in Jamshedpur on Thursday. Jha�s opening round effort placed him one shot ahead of Delhi�s Honey Baisoya at the Rs. 75 lakh event.
Abhishek Jha, precariously placed at 62nd in the Rolex Ranking, made an ideal start at the penultimate event of the 2015 PGTI season, with nine birdies against a lone bogey. Jha thus set himself up to make it into the top-60 of the money list which is the cut-off to earn exemption for the 2016 PGTI season.
The 29-year-old Abhishek, who hails from the Eagleton Golf Resort near Bengaluru, backed up his consistent hitting with some crucial conversions on the greens on an overcast and gloomy day.
Jha, the tallest Indian professional, at six feet five inches in height, got off to a terrific start with three straight birdies from 10th to 12th thanks to two tap-ins and one 20-feet putt. His bogey on the 13th, after a poor approach, came against the run of play.
However, the lanky lad, who has grown up playing alongside the likes of city-mates Anirban Lahiri and Chikkarangappa, came roaring back with six more birdies which featured two 12-feet conversions and a couple of chip-putts.
Abhishek, yet to register his first professional win, said, �I�ve been playing well for the last few months but the putts haven�t been rolling in for me. Today, I not only struck it well but also holed all the putts that mattered. The 50-feet par save on the second was a real confidence booster and was like a bonus. I had almost given up that hole as a bogey.
�There are scoring opportunities at this course but one needs to play it smart and place it well off the tees. One cannot muscle his way around at this venue. I need a good outing here since my best this year has only been 14th place. It�s the first time we�re playing Golmuri as an 18-hole course for the whole week. It�s been an enjoyable experience so far,� added Jha.
Honey Baisoya, who had finished third at the last PGTI event in Mumbai with a final round of six-under, seemed to have carried his form to Jamshedpur since he opened the week with a seven-under-64 that was punctuated by eight birdies and a solitary bogey. He sank a 35-footer for birdie on the fifth and drove two consecutive par-4 greens for birdies on the 12th and 13th.
Baisoya, who currently lies 21st in the Rolex Ranking, said, �I was a little disappointed with my poor form last year. It took me a long time to recover from it mentally. But this year I�ve focused on strengthening the mental aspect of my game and on my putting and the results are there to see. I�m now in a strong position this year and want to end the season on a high.�
The quartet of Noida golfers Amardip Sinh Malik and Vikrant Chopra, Panchkula�s Angad Cheema and Faridabad�s Abhinav Lohan shot bogey-free scores of six-under-65 to be joint third.
Delhi�s Vinod Kumar, a former champion, was a further shot back in seventh place.
Defending champion Om Prakash Chouhan of Mhow was in tied 20th place after his first round of two-under-69.
Karan Taunk of Jamshedpur posted a three-over-74 to be tied 77th.