Rahil Gangjee. Pic: Paul Lakatos/ Asian Tour
Kanchanaburi, Thailand, February 24: Rahil Gangjee, playing his first event since the last week of November, got off to a great start with 5-under 67 that put him in Tied-sixth place alongside S Chikkarangappa, in the first round of the Royal’s Cup. Both started from the tenth and had six birdies against one bogey.
Aman Raj, who has finished better than T-20 since October last year also had a fine start with 4-under 68 that was made possible with an eagle on the ninth.
Among other Indians, Viraj Madappa (69) was T-21 while the rest were over par. Shiv Kapur (72) was T-70 as was Rashid Khan, SSP Chawrasia and Ajeetesh Sandhu with 73 each were T-89, Veer Ahlawat and Khalin Joshi with 74 were T-111 and Aadil Bedi (75) was T-127,
Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang took the lead on day one as he fired an eight-under-par 64 at Grand Prix Golf Club, in Kanchanaburi province, to lead from Justin Quiban from the Philippines, who shot 65. Sweden’s Bjorn Hellgren plus Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana and Pachuayprakong Thitipan, returned 66s, in the second event of the season on the Asian Tour.
Gangjee, who last played in Japan in the Casio World Open, seemed a little tentative with a bogey on his second hole, the 11th of the course. He made no more mistakes as he birdied 12th, 14th, 17th and 18th. On his second nine he birdied third and seventh for a good day’s work.
Chikka birdied 11th, 13th and 14th and in between dropped a shot on 12th. On his second nine, the front side of the course, Chikka birdied fourth, sixth and ninth.
Aman Raj had five birdies and an eagle and bogeyed and three bogeys.
The 35 year old Chan is a three-time winner on Asian Tour and six-time winner on Asian Development Tour and also won the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship at the end of last year.
Hellgren, who attended Florida State University and roomed with American Brooks Koepka for two years, went round bogey free with four birdies on his front nine and two on his back, on the last two holes.
Newly crowned Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Joohyung Kim from Korea and American John Catlin, a four-time Asian Tour winner, were in a large group of players who returned 67s.