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Amandeep Drall and Hitaashee Bakshi endured a double bogey each, but still managed a share of the lead at the end of the first round of the fourth leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Poona Club Golf Course on Wednesday. Both of them shot 3-under 68 each at the Par-71 layout.

The duo was one shot clear of surprise third place holder Jyotsana Singh, who despite two late bogeys carded 2-under 69.

Amandeep, leader on the Hero Order of Merit, who showed signs of a revival in fortunes last week with a runner-up finish, continued that this week with a card of 68 that included six birdies, a bogey and a double bogey. Hitaashee, who had a run of four birdies in five holes, with a double bogey in between, also had a bogey and a double bogey.

Hitaashee’s elder sister Jahanvi and Ridhima Dilawari were also under par at 1-under 70, while seven players, including players with a fair bit of experience on the Ladies European Tour, shot even par rounds. The seven players tied for sixth were Tvesa Malik, Diksha Dagar, Vani Kapoor, Seher Atwal, Ananya Datar, Khushi Khanijau and amateur Khushi Hooda.

Amandeep Drall opened with birdies on first and fourth but soon after had a bogey on the Par-4 fifth and a double bogey on the Par-5 seventh. She recovered well with four birdies against no bogeys between ninth and 16th for a 68.

Hitaashee, who broke through for her first pro win in December 2020, birdied three in a row from 12th and had three other birdies. She dropped a bogey on Par-4 eighth and a double on Par-4 11th.

Tvesa Malik, playing her first event in 2021, carded even par but was disappointed that two of her three bogeys came on Par-5s, the 12th and 18th.

Last week’s winner amateur Avani Prashanth did well to recover from a difficult start of bogey-bogey to card 2-over 73 and was lying T-15.

For the second week running, there was a hole-in-one as Rhea Purvi Sarvanan aced the Par-3 182-yard 16th hole, but she also had a triple bogey on the Par-5 eighth hole and carded 2-over 73. While there was one ace, there were two eagles. Shriya Vivek (73) holed her second shot on the Par-4 10th and Ishvari Prasanna eagled the Par-5 12th.

Things did not work as per plan for Gaurika Bishnoi as she shot 4-over 75.

Tee times for the second round of the fourth leg of the Hero WPGT at Poona Club Golf Course, Pune :

8:30 AM : Saaniya Sharma 83; Marshneil Prasad 83;

8:40 AM : Durga Nittur 82; Disha Kavery 82;

8:50 AM : Mehar Atwal 81; Nishna Patel (A) 80; Astha Madan 80;

9:00 AM : Trimann Saluja 80; Anousha Tripathi 79; Geetika Ahuja 78;

9:15 AM : Rhea Jha 78; Asmitha Sathish 77; Shweta Mansingh 76;

9:25 AM : Ishvari Prasanna 76; Shagun Narain 75; Gaurika Bishnoi 75;

9:35 AM : Nayanika Sanga (A) 74; Puneet K. Bajwa (A) 74; Oviya Reddi 74;

9:45 AM : Neha Tripathi 74; Rhea Purvi Saravanan 74; Avani Prashanth (A) 73;

10:00 AM : Shriya Vivek 73; Sneha Singh (A) 72; Gauri Karhade 72;

10:10 AM : Khushi Khanijau 71; Ananya Datar 71; Diksha Dagar 71;

10:20 AM : Khushi Hooda (A) 71; Tvesa Malik 71; Seher Atwal 71;

10:30 AM : Vani Kapoor 71; Ridhima Dilawari 70; Jahanvi Bakshi 70;

10:40 AM : Jyotsana Singh 69; Hitaashee Bakshi 68; Amandeep Drall 68.

With inputs from www.golfxyz.in

Pranavi Urs and Diksha Dagar.

Pranavi Urs, who has a win and a runner-up finish in the two starts in 2021, will start as a big favourite in the third leg at the Bombay Presidency Golf Club on Wednesday.

Pranavi, runner-up behind Ridhima Dilawari in the opening leg and then winner in the second leg last month, will lead a big field that includes LET winner Diksha Dagar, who plays her first event of 2021. 

This is the third leg of the Hero WPGT Tour with a purse of Rs. 10 lakhs and the total field is 37, the highest ever in its history, indicating the growing strength of professional women golfers in India. It includes six amateurs.

Ridhima is also in the fray, as is Amandeep Drall, who still leads the combined 2020-21 Hero Order of Merit. Amandeep, who won the eighth leg of the 2020 season and then finished runner-up in the ninth and last leg of 2020, has seen a dip in form. She was ninth in both first and second legs of 2021 last month, so she will be hoping to get back to the form that has seen her get to the top of the Hero Order of Merit.

The Bakshi sisters, Hitaashee, who was second in the second leg, and Jahanvi will also put forward a strong claim, while seasoned Vani Kapoor, winless for a long time, and Amandeep Drall are also in the field.

Astha Madan, who played a few LET events last year, and past winners Gauri Karhade and Neha Tripathi also feature in the field.

Of the six amateurs in the field, namely Avani Prashanth, Khushi Hooda, Nayanika Sanga, Nishna Patel, Sneha Singh and Vidhatri Urs, Sneha has already tasted victory on the pro Tour while still an amateur.

Tee times for the first round of the third leg of the Hero WPGT at TNGF Bombay Presidency Golf Club, Mumbai:

8:00 AM : Geetika Ahuja; Ishvari Prasanna;

8:10 AM : Shweta Mansingh; Marshneil Prasad;

8:20 AM : Seher Atwal; Lakhmehar Pardesi; Khushi Hooda (A);

8:30 AM : Avani Prashanth (A); Diksha Dagar; Ananya Datar;

8:40 AM : Vani Kapoor; Vidhatri Urs (A); Rhea Jha;

9:05 AM : Sneha Singh (A); Astha Madan; Shriya Vivek;

9:15 AM : Pranavi Urs; Shagun Narain; Ayesha Kapur;

9:25 AM : Nayanika Sanga (A); Amandeep Drall; Trimann Saluja;

9:40 AM : Asmitha Sathish; Jyotsana Singh; Saaniya Sharma;

9:50 AM : Nishna Patel (A); Khushi Khanijau; Durga Nittur;

10:00 AM : Jahanvi Bakshi; Oviya Reddi; Neha Tripathi;

10:10 AM : Ridhima Dilawari; Hitaashee Bakshi; Gauri Karhade.

With inputs from www.golfxyz.in

Dustin Johnson of the USA.

Dustin Johnson won his second Saudi International in three years – he was second once – as he showcased his preference for the Saudi International. Though he was not really in trouble he still had to stave off the challenge of Tony Finau and Victor Perez.

The PGA TOUR’s top star, Johnson, who is the World Number One, won his third title in eight starts and fourth in 13, as he cemented his position at the top of world rankings even more. He has a huge lead of more than three and a half average points over second ranked Jon Rahm.

India’s sole player in the field, Shubhankar Sharma, missed the halfway cut.

Johnson, who won the inaugural event here two years ago before finishing as runner-up to Graeme McDowell 12 months later, carded a closing 68 at Royal Greens Golf and Country club to finish on 15 under par. That was two clear of Finau and Justin Rose.

“Conditions when we started were really tough,” Johnson said. “I knew I was hitting it well, I saw the leaderboard and I knew the guys were playing well.

“I kept giving myself chances – I didn’t hole any of them but I hit good shots and I finally holed a really nice putt on 13 and from there on I played solid.”

He added: “Couldn’t hole any putts today. Just the reads, I’d see it going left to right it would go right to left; I’d see it going right to left it would go left to right. It was tough all day today.

Perez had been progressing patiently and a fine approach to six feet on the 15th saw him join Finau one adrift of the leader.

Finau three putted the 16th to drop two back, although Johnson and Perez in the group behind also found problems on the par three. The Frenchman hit his tee shot into a swale to the right of the green and, after pitching through the putting surface, ran up a double bogey to end his challenge.

Johnson failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker but, after Finau had bogeyed the 17th attempting to force the issue, Johnson produced a magnificent drive on the same hole to leave a simple up and down for birdie.

There was still some drama to be had on the last – Finau was a whisker away from holing out from the sand for eagle, while Johnson found a bunker off the tee and almost picked out another trap with his lay-up.

However, once his ball settled on the fairway he was able to conservatively pitch to the middle of the green and two putt for the win.

Rose made five birdies in a flawless closing 65, while Perez missed a birdie chance on the last to finish alongside Scotland’s Callum Hill in fourth.

With inputs from www.golfxyz.in

Tvesa Malik who was solidly placed at 3-under through 13 holes collapsed in the last five and finished at 3-over 75 in the first round of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International on Thursday. Tvesa, who has been having a good season, started on the back nine and dropped six shots  between the fifth, her 14th hole, and the eighth, her 17th hole. She is now placed T-55 in the first-ever women’s professional golf event in Saudi Arabia.

Among other Indians, Aditi Ashok played steady with a card of 1-overr 73 that included one birdie and two bogeys. Aditi, sixth last week in Dubai, is placed -31st in One million Euro event.

Diksha Dagar and Astha Madan, carded six-over 78 each and were placed T-86. Diksha had three birdies, but she also had five bogeys and two doubles. Astha had just one birdie, five bogeys and one double.

Tvesa starting on the 10th birdied her second, third and fourth holes, to go 3-under through four holes. A bogey on 16th, her seventh hole was quickly repaired with a birdie on18th. On the front nine of the course, Tvesa bogeyed third, but birdied fourth as she was then 3-under through 13 holes and T-4th on the leaderboard. She then dropped fast with bogeys on fifth and sixth and then came a triple bogey on seventh followed by yet another bogey on eighth. It saw her fall to T-55.

England’s Georgia Hall, the 2018 Women’s British Open winner, shot a brilliant bogey free 7-under 65 to take the first round lead over Lydia Hall of Wales, who also had seven birdies, who carded 66 and she had one bogey, too.

Ursula Wiktsrom and Emily Kristine Pedersen are tied third with rounds of 67 each, while three players, Linda Wessberg, Nobuhle Dlamini and Tonje Daffinrud are T-5th with 69 each.

(by arrangement with www.GolfXYZ.in)

Aditi Ashok and Tvesa Malik will be among the four golfers Indian who will fly the Indian flag for the second week in succession as the Aramco Saudi Ladies International golf tournament gets underway on Thursday. Aditi played a stunning round of 8-under 64 and finished T-6th, while Tvesa Malik was T-27th. Also featuring in the field for one million euro inaugural event are Diksha Dagar and Astha Madan at the King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah.

Moroccan professional golfer Maha Haddioui will make LET history, flying her country’s flag as the first Arabic woman to compete in Saudia Arabia at the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International.

The presence of four Indian women golfers on a regular basis – they will also feature in next week’s event – indicates the growth of women’s golf in India, courtesy the strong domestic Hero Women’s PGA Tour and the more than decade old Hero Womens Indian Open.

Aditi will be the first Indian to tee off alongside Nuria Iturrioz and Olivia Cowan at 7.23 am, while Astha Madan will play with Sarah Schober and Isabella Deilert from the first tee .

Diksha Dagar plays Lina Boqvist and Lydia Hall at 7.45 am but from 7.,45 am and Tvesa tees off with Gabriela Cowley and Luna Sobron Galmes at 11.43 am.

Legendary English golfer Dame Laura Davies is among the star names in the landmark women’s golf events. The four-time Major-winner will travel to King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in pursuit of an 86th professional title in a career that has seen her named Ladies European Tour Order Of Merit winner seven-times and represent Team Europe in 12 different Solheim Cups. She will be joined by Swedish two-time Major-winner Anna Nordqvist, as well as a host of other leading golfers.

Laura and Anna Nordquist apart, the field will include stellar names likes Trish Johnson, Esther Henseleit, Georgia Hall, Beth Allen, Charley Hull and Lee Ann Pace besides Becky Morgan, Emily Pedersen and Caroline Hedwall, all prominent winners on the LET.

The Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, which staged the first two men’s tournaments on the European Tour, will be hosting this event also. Haddioui, well-known on the LET as the first Arabic golfer to gain playing privileges after turning professional back in 2012, has enjoyed 101 starts, but this is the first start in Saudi Arabia.

The prize fund this week is the largest of the season, with 108 players competing for $1 million with a further $500,000 on offer next week at the inaugural Saudi Ladies Team International.

(by arrangement with www.GolfXYZ.in)

Diksha Dagar

Diksha Dagar and Aditi Ashok are in with a good chance of finishing in the Top-10 as they begin the final day of the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic late on Friday under the lights.

Late in the second round Aditi finished her second round with a card of 3-under 69 following a 75 on the first day, as did Diksha Dagar earlier in the day. Diksha, too, had a 75 in the opening round.

Tvesa Malik slipped with a second straight 75 and is T-39th and Astha Madan followed her first round 75 with a disappointing 80 is T-51st.

The final day will see all the players go out in three-ball groups at the same time but from different tees.

Astha is paired with Carly Booth and Hannah Burke, while Tvesa plays with Amy Boulden and Emma Nilsson. Aditi is grouped with Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso and Gabriela Cowley, and Diksha plays with reigning Hero Women’s Indian Open winner, Christine Wolff, and Gabriela Cowley, a winner on the Justin Rose Ladies series.

Swede Caroline Hedwall maintained her lead as she added 70 to her first 65 and was now 9-under and one shot clear of Meghan MacLaren (69-67) and LPGA star Minjee Lee (72-65) found her form after a modest 72 in the first round. She shot the best round in the morning with a 7-under 65.

Celine Boutier (67-71) lies fourth at 6-under, while former World No. 1 Lydia Ko, who was 4-under on the first day is 1-under through eight holes in the second round. Also at 5-under are Nuria Iturrioz, who is 2-under through seven holes in second round and Laura Fuenstueck is par through six holes in second round.

In the second round, Diksha had a very eventful round two spurts of birdies – one which saw three in a row and another that had four in a row. Overall, she had eight birdies, three bogeys, all on the front nine, and a double bogey on Par-3 17th.

Aditi had four birdies against one bogey in a steady round.

The world’s first day-night Tour event has an interesting format which sees the professionals pair up with a team of amateurs for first two days and play continues till late into the evening under the lights with the Dubai skyline in the background.

(By arrangement with www.GolfXYZ.in)

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri made a lot of birdies but also gave away a few shots on the third day at the windswept Bermuda Championship. Yet he stayed within striking distance of the leaders in Southampton, Berrmuda.

On a day when winds gusted up to 40 kmph, Lahiri shot 2-under 69 and was Tied-11th, despite a closing bogey in the second round. Lahiri is now 6-under and four behind leader, Doc Redman (67), who moved to 10-under. Redman is one clear of Ryan Armour (70), Wyndham Clark (70) and Kramer Hickok (69).

Also in contention is another former Asian Tour No. 1 Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69) at 7-under and in Tied-8th place.

Former Asian Tour No. 1 Lahiri, who started the third day with a bogey also ended it with a bogey and in between on the ninth, he also had a double bogey. However, he has been making a lot of birdies. In the third round Lahiri made six birdies, taking his total to 15, equalling the most this week.

He admitted, “I played quite well but managed to make enough mistakes. Felt like I was a bit loose and gave away two or three shots that I should not have. I’m happy with the way I struck the ball especially on the back nine which was playing harder today. Disappointed to finish with a bogey again. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth but that’s okay.”

He said, “It was a bit of a grind but it was not as tough as yesterday,” The fact he is making a lot of birdies gave him a lot of confidence and was feeling optimistic as he continues his resurgence in form as conditions are expected to be calmer and better on the final day.

Lahiri is playing in his sixth successive season on the PGA TOUR, with a runner-up finish at the 2017 Memorial Tournament being his career best finish. He has not won a title worldwide since his win at home at the Hero Indian Open, after which he has been playing on the PGA Tour.

“Tomorrow, my goal will be to keep a clean card and if I can minimize my errors, I feel I’m playing well enough to make a bunch of birdies and hopefully down the stretch give myself a chance. Everything after that is a bonus. Hopefully we can make some magic,” said Lahiri.

“Conditions will be better for scoring (in the final round). It’ll be interesting with the two-tee start as it won’t be much of a difference in terms of the course conditions as opposed to a one tee start. Tomorrow everyone will play in a two-hour window and conditions will be the same for everyone. I’m feeling good, confident.”

Kiradech fought hard and ended his day with a closing birdie from two feet after rifling a nine iron approach to within two feet of the pin. The 31-year-old Thai star said, “I have stuck to my game plan the last two rounds and played some solid golf, rolled the ball quite well and got up and down a few times except for 15 and 16 which I’m upset about. However, it was nice to finish with a birdie.”

The leader Redman who is the 2017 U.S. Amateur champion, was at 10-under 203, one shot ahead of Ryan Armour (70), Wyndham Clark (70) and Kramer Hickok (69), who took three putts from a tough spot on the fringe on the 18th at Port Royal.

Another shot behind were Matt Jones (66), Brian Gay (67) and Ollie Schniederjans (69). Jones was bogey-free in the third round, which to him was as impressive as any of his five birdies.

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri was in full flow for the first 10 holes, before lapsing on the back nine, as he finished with 3-under 68 in the first round of the Bermuda Championship in Bermuda.

Beginning with a pair of birdies, he was 4-under for the front nine at Port Royal and was then 5-under through first 10 holes. But back-to-back bogeys on 12th and 13th followed by a birdie on 17th and  a closing bogey saw him card 68 as he was placed T-26 after the first day.

Arjun Atwal began with a birdie and then had to wait till the 18th for his only other birdie but in between he dropped a double bogey and four other bogeys for a disappointing 4-over 75, leaving him to do a lot of work to stay on for the weekend.

A year ago Lahiri opened with a 66 on the same course but suffered a side strain late in the second round to withdraw despite making the cut.

Peter Malnati continued his rich vein of form as he celebrated seeing his infant son at a PGA TOUR event for the first time since the pandemic, with a 8-under 63 – his third round of 63 or better in last three weeks. The fine start gave him a one-shot lead over Ryan Armour and Doug Ghim, who birdied his last two holes. Malnati is coming of finishes inside Top-5 in last two starts – T2 at Sanderson Farms and T-5 at Shriners Hospital for Children Open.

The Bermuda Championship presented another step towards normalcy, as the event allows 500 spectators a day as the PGA Tour threw the event open for fans for the first time since the PLAYERS. The event has also been upgraded to full status, which means 500 Fedex Points and an invitation to the Masters Tournament next year. Till last year, the Bermuda Championship was held in the same week as the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

Three players Doc Redman, Vaughn Taylor and Chase Seiffert were at 65.

Three-time major champion and Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington opened with a 67 while Fred Funk, the 64-year-old regular on the PGA TOUR Champions, shot 69 as he played in the same group as his son, Taylor Funk, who shot a 73.

The Bermuda Championship also heralds the start of consecutive PGA TOUR events allowing limited fans. The Houston Open has said it will sell no more than 2,000 tickets a day. The Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, the first event of 2021, also announced this week it would have limited fans.