Siddikur shoots into lead at Kensville Challenge

Ahmedabad, Jan 13 (PTI) Siddikur Rahman of Bangladeshtoday took the first step at claiming the inaugural GujaratKensville Challenge by shooting a flawless five-under 67 totake a two-shot lead at the end of the first round in the euro200,000 event here at the Kensville Golf and Country Club.

Ricardo Santos, Florian Praegant and Daniel Denisonchased the leader with an identical round of three-under 69.

India''s leading contender Gaganjeet Bhullar shot atwo-under apr 70 to be tied for the fifth position along withEspen Kofstad, Mads Vibe-Hastrup and Klas Eriksson on a daywhen the greens played truant to most of the players.

Siddikur was barely 20 when he won the coveted All IndiaAmateur title.

In six years, Siddikur has matured enough to not only winthe "Rookie of the Year" award on the Asian Tour but finishedin the top-10 on the Asian Tour Order of Merit in the justconcluded season but has also bagged the "Sportsperson of theYear", the highest sports award in Bangladesh.

Beginning from the 10th, the Bangladeshi, who had theprivilege of playing two practice rounds apart from the Pro-Amseemed to be at ease with the greens, immediately struck formmaking two consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th, thelatter with a 20-feet effort on the undulated green.

The 26-year-old who is a product of the developmentprogram of his home club Kurmitola Golf Club in Dhaka, savedtwo more strokes on the 14th and 16th respectively beforetaking the turn.

Flirting with the birdies, Siddikur could convert onlyone birdie on the back nine but was happy not to commit anymistake.

"I did rather make a par than lose a stroke. Hence I waskeeping the ball in play," said Siddikur.

"My club, Kurmitola Golf Club has played a crucial rolein the development of golf in Bangladesh by initiating ajunior development programme and providing enough facilitiesfor them to train. Hence there is spurt in the number ofplayers playing on the bigger tours," said the golfer afterthe round.

"It is always good to begin the tournament on a positivenote and I hope to sustain my form through the week. And if Iemerge as the winner, I would surely play the Challenge Tour,"said Siddikur, who holds the Asian Tour card after he won theBrunei Open last year.

Top results: 1. Md Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 67; T-2 RicardoSantos (POR) 69, Florian Praegant (AUT) 69, Daniel Denison(ENG) 69; T-5 Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 70, Espen Kofstad (NOR)70, Mads Vibe-Hastrup (DEN) 70, Klas Eriksson (SWE) 70; T-9Jorge Campillo (ESP) 71, Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 71, Manav Jaini(IND) 71, Ross Bain (SCO) 71.

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