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Feroz Ali on fire at Hero Honda Western Open

By Super

Pune, Feb 22 (UNI) Feroz Ali, who showed his penchant for the Poona Club Golf Course, fired a record-equalling eight-under 63 to be in line for his second consecutive win in as many weeks in the current season of the Amby Valley PGAI Tour.

The Kolkatan was three strokes ahead in the opening round of the Rs 12-lakh Hero Honda Western Open at the par-71 facility here today.

Mukesh Kumar, SSP Chowrasia, Roop Singh, Sanjay Kumar and Randhir Singh Ghotra all submitted an identical card of five-under 66 to be tied for the second spot.

Defending champion Arjun Singh shot a four-under 67 to be tied for the seventh place along with local challengers Rajiv Niranjan Datar and Dinesh Raghuvanshi, S Madaiah and Amardip Malik.

Bangalore lad Rahul Ganpathy aced the par-3 fourth hole to become the fourth player in the Amby Valley PGAI Tour to win the hole-in-one prize sponsored by McDowell's Signature.

Using a seven-iron in perfect playing conditions, the 27-year-old made a hole-in-one on the 181-yard hole. Ganapathy won worth his weight of the rare spirit for his effort. Incidentally, he is the fourth player to do so in two years of the hole-in-one prize.

Feroz Ali, who has three consecutive victories at this very course from 2000-2002, made a good start parring his way till the fifth. A good approach shot on the sixth fetched him his first birdie of the day. That was the beginning from where Feroz never looked back and went on to fire back to back birdies on the next two holes. As if he was not satisfied, he made an eagle on the short par-4 ninth after driving the 348-yard hole and nailing a nine-footer.

The 1998 Indian Open winner made one more birdie on the 10th holing from 25 ft and followed up with two more on the par-5 12th and the par-3 16th.

The only blemish of the day came on the par-4 17th where he pulled his tee shot and had to chip-out and lost a stroke. However, he made it up with a birdie on the finishing hole, where he almost chipped-in. Else, he would have etched his name in the record books.

''I had a good day with my putter. Actually my putting has improved while betting with my son at home, where I practice on the mat. I am stroking it well,'' said Feroz who made just 23 putts for the day.

''I must admit that the course is in excellent condition. It was never like this before,'' he added.

Leading scores (after 18 holes) (Pros): 63 Feroz Ali; 66 S S P Chowrasia, Mukesh Kumar, Roop Singh, Sanjay Kumar, Randhir Singh Ghotra; 67 Amardip Sinh Malik, S Madaiah, Arjun Singh, Rajiv Datar, DS Raghuvanshi; 68 Naman Dawar, Om Prakash Chauhan, C Muniyappa, Digvijay Singh, Gurki Shergill, Harinder Gupta, Jumman, Yusuf Ali, Jaiveer Virk. Amateurs: 75 Mehul Rastogi; 76 Shubam Jindal.


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