Kochi: Five-time Asian Tour winner Gaganjeet Bhullar and defending champion Shubhankar Sharma fired a sizzling three-under 69 to emerge as joint leaders, while Pratap Atwal blasted a hole-in-one on the opening day of the PGTI Cochin Masters here on Wednesday.
N Thangaraja of Sri Lanka and Udayan Mane of Bangalore were placed tied third at two-under-70 at the CIAL Golf & Country Club here.
N Thangaraja and rookie Udayan Mane were one shot off the lead in joint third.
Pratap Atwal of Delhi made a hole-in-one on the 17th during his round of even-par-72. He was placed tied 12th.
Bhullar, playing here for the first time, got off to a solid start with long birdie putts of 12 feet and 25 feet on the 12th and 14th holes respectively.
The Kapurthala golfer picked up another birdie on the 16th to make the turn at three-under. He, however, lost some momentum when he missed the greens on the fourth and eighth to drop two shots.
On the front-nine, Bhullar could only manage birdies on the sixth and ninth as he closed the round on a high with a 15-feet birdie conversion on the ninth.
Bhullar said, "I enjoyed my first competitive round at the CIAL Golf & Country Club. The course here makes you think and take some tough decisions. The conditions were tough today as it was windy and therefore one didn't see too many low scores.
"I putted well today and importantly closed the round well with a long birdie conversion on the ninth. It's a good start to the week.
"It's great to see the sport being taken to new centres such as Kochi. I believe the talent pool on the PGTI has grown tremendously since I last played on the tour in 2011. We have so many new winners. There are now at least 15 to 20 players who can win any given event," he added.