Ahmedabad: Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh on Thursday took the first step at claiming the inaugural Gujarat Kensville Challenge by shooting a flawless five-under 67 to take a two-shot lead at the end of the first round in the euro 200,000 event here at the Kensville Golf and Country Club.
Ricardo Santos, Florian Praegant and Daniel Denison chased the leader with an identical round of three-under 69.
India`s leading contender Gaganjeet Bhullar shot a two-under apr 70 to be tied for the fifth position along with Espen Kofstad, Mads Vibe-Hastrup and Klas Eriksson on a day when the greens played truant to most of the players.
Siddikur was barely 20 when he won the coveted All India Amateur title.
In six years, Siddikur has matured enough to not only win the "Rookie of the Year" award on the Asian Tour but finished in the top-10 on the Asian Tour Order of Merit in the just concluded season but has also bagged the "Sportsperson of the Year", the highest sports award in Bangladesh.
Beginning from the 10th, the Bangladeshi, who had the privilege of playing two practice rounds apart from the Pro-Am seemed to be at ease with the greens, immediately struck form making two consecutive birdies on the 11th and 12th, the latter with a 20-feet effort on the undulated green.
The 26-year-old who is a product of the development program of his home club Kurmitola Golf Club in Dhaka, saved two more strokes on the 14th and 16th respectively before taking the turn.
Flirting with the birdies, Siddikur could convert only one birdie on the back nine but was happy not to commit any mistake.
"I did rather make a par than lose a stroke. Hence I was keeping the ball in play," said Siddikur.
"My club, Kurmitola Golf Club has played a crucial role in the development of golf in Bangladesh by initiating a junior development programme and providing enough facilities for them to train. Hence there is spurt in the number of players playing on the bigger tours," said the golfer after
"It is always good to begin the tournament on a positive note and I hope to sustain my form through the week. And if I emerge as the winner, I would surely play the Challenge Tour," said Siddikur, who holds the Asian Tour card after he won the Brunei Open last year.
Top results: 1. Md Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 67; T-2 Ricardo Santos (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-9 Jorge Campillo (ESP) 71, Bjorn Akesson (SWE) 71, Manav Jaini (IND) 71, Ross Bain (SCO) 71.