As players trooped into the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) clubhouse in tired groups, the buzz around most tables was about who hit what hazard and how they recovered on Day 1 of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship in Kolkata.
RCGC-bred Rahil Gangjee, who lost his Asian Tour card this year and will be back at the PGTI next season, summed it up nicely. “I have never seen such a challenging course here. Over the next three days, it will separate the men from the boys,” he said on Wednesday after returning one-under along with Jyoti Randhawa. Leading the way with four-under was 48-year-old Mukesh Kumar.
The fairways have been narrowed and the grass in the rough is deep even on the first cut. So once a drive got into the second cut and beyond, thanks to some inconsistent gusts of wind, recovery was difficult as most of the greens are really firm with the ball rolling more than intended.
To put things into perspective, Anirban Lahiri, who was one of the only two Indians to qualify for the British Open this year along with Jeev Milkha Singh, was two-over. A double bogey following a water hazard on the 14th, a series of wayward drives and occasionally some ordinary putting had Lahiri struggling through the day. "Some excellent putts have kept me alive till now," he said at the watering hole on the 10th.
At the end of the day, Lahiri was a lot more composed. “The course is very challenging like it should be for such a big event.”