Round one leader Smriti Mehra in action at the Noida Golf Course on Wednesday. Image courtesy WGAI.
By Rahul Banerji
Smriti Mehra bogeyed the last hole, but still held a two-shot lead over the field after the first day of the 17th leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Noida Golf Course on Wednesday.
Smriti had three birdies against three bogeys in her level par round of 72 on the day.
Ridhima Dilawari and Millie Saroha trailed the leader by two strokes while Amandeep Drall was a further two shots adrift at 76, along with Neha Tripathi and Gursimar Badwal.
The well-manicured and quick greens at the Noida GC had the field scrambling for control as reflected in the fact that only the leader had a par round.
Good work went into preparing the course with the first cut trimmed well enough not to put players off from going for their shots, while the the green collars had enough play to allow use of the putter instead of a wedge if needed.
Pre-event favourite Tvesa Malik, Order of Merit and winner of four events this year, had an off day.
In the space of eight holes, Tvesa dropped six shots, four bogeys and a double, but closed out with six pars for a card of 78. She is six shots behind Smriti and 10th on the leaderboard.
Amateur Diksha Dagar, who has a win on the pro circuit to her name, Afshan Fatima and Siddhi Kapoor shot 77s to be tied-seventh.
Smriti, still looking for her first win of the year had a birdie on the fourth hole, but dropped two shots in four holes to make the turn in one over par 37.
On the back nine, she recovered with two birdies but an 18th hole bogey pegged Smriti back to level par for the day,
Ridhima was three-over by the seventh hole, but two quick birdies saw her fight back before she dropped another shot on the 11th. With seven straight pars thereafter, she finished on a 74.
Millie had four bogeys in a row but came back with two birdies before playing to par the rest of the way for her 74.
On Thursday, Komal Chaudhary is drawn with Khushi Khanijau and Saaniya Sharma, while Vaishavi Sinha tees off with Mehar Atwal and Tvesa.
In the third group, Siddhi Kapoor, amateur Diksha Dagar and Afshan Fatima are together, while the penultimate threesome has Gursimar Badwal, Neha Tripathi and Amandeep Drall.
The lead group comprises of Millie, Ridhima and Smriti.
Tvesa, who has had a dream season, leads the field in the Order of Merit race by over Rs 4,40,000. Her closest rival is Amandeep, who has three wins this season despite playing three events less than Tvesa.
The only other player to have won more than once this year is Gursimar Badwal.