Ahmedabad: Rahil Gangjee raised hopes of another Indian win at the second edition of the Gujarat Kensville Challenge as he turned in an impressive four-under 68 on the opening day to emerge as the sole leader in the European Challenge Tour event.
Defending champion Gaganjeet Bhullar was three shots behind at tied 12th place after a round of 71. Another Indian Shiv Kapur, also making his Challenge Tour debut, shot a bogey-free 69 to share the second place with American Dodge Kemmer and the seasoned Gary Lockerbie.
Gangjee seemed to continue from where he had left at the Asian Tour Qualifying Final Stage as he moved to six-under through 12 holes, before finally settling for a four-under 68 at the Kensville Golf and Country Club here. He sank seven birdies against three bogeys on the first day.
A group of seven players from six nationalities were bunched together at two-under 70 in tied fifth. The group included Manav Jaini of India, two Swedes -- Jens Danthorp and Bjorn Akesson, a South African Tyrone Ferreira, Englishman Seven Benson, German Max Keiffer and Austrian HP Bacher.
Bhullar at tied 12th shared the spot with Chiragh Kumar, winner of the PGTI Order of Merit last season, and Ranjit Singh. Seven other Indians, Mukesh Kumar, Amardip Sinh Malik, Abhinav Lohan, Shamim Khan, Digvijay Singh and Sanjay Kumar shot 72 each and were tied 25th place.
Except for the closing bogey, Gangjee seemed satisfied.
"I had a great opening nine with four birdies (on second, third, sixth and seventh) in first even holes. I was hitting really well and close to the pin," he said.
He added birdies on the 10th and 12th and at six-under, he looked set for a real low number.
"I just wanted to go deeper (lower score) because I have learnt on Nationwide Tour in US to use every opportunity to score good numbers. This was one," he said.
"I got to six-under today it was a good job. I had a few putts but I didn`t expect to do that. I hit the ball well and putted really good today, so it`s encouraging."