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Mukesh in joint lead

Calcutta: Mukesh Kumar continued in the same vein Wednesday that has given him this recent winning streak, to go into joint lead with Vinod Kumar in the opening round of the Rs 9.5 lakh Surya Nepal Masters, being played at the par-72 Gokarna Forest Golf Resort course.

The 35-year-old pro from Mhow, and the young Delhiite Vinod shot rounds of five-under 67 to enjoy a one-stroke advantage over former champion Uttam Singh Mundy of Calcutta, who was placed third at four-under 68, according to information reaching here.

Brothers Firoz and Rafiq Ali, also of Calcutta, were in tied fourth place at three-under 69. Deepak Acharya was the best-placed pro of Nepal and was tied-seventh at one-under 71.

C.B. Bhandari and Tashi Ghale led the amateurs with scores of three-over 75 in this meet, an event of the Hero Honda Indian PGA Tour.

Mukesh has won six times in his last seven appearances on the Tour and is yet to finish outside the top-three in last nine outings.

He was first to tee off from the tenth tee after early morning fog delayed start by an hour. A par on the tenth was followed by successive birdies on the par-5 11th and 12th, but that was negated by bogies on the 14th and 15th. A birdie on the 17th and a bogey on the 18th, where his putt ran off the fast-paced green, saw him make the turn at even-par.

On the back nine Mukesh parred the first three holes and then zoomed. He birdied the short par-4 fourth after driving the green, birdied the fifth, missed a small birdie putt on the sixth and finished with three birdies in his last three holes for a five-under 67.

Mundy kick-started his round with three birdies in the first four holes and made seven in all, but a double bogey on the ninth, where he lost the ball after his tee shot hit the tree on the left. His other bogey was a result of three putts on the seventh hole.

STANDINGS (After round I)

67 Mukesh Kumar, Vinod Kumar; 68 Uttam Singh Mundy; 69 Feroz Ali, Rafiq Ali; 70 Ajay Gupta; 71 Deepak Acharya, Pappan, Vishal Singh, Amritinder Singh, Zai Kipgen; 73 Raju Ali; 74 Sabin Sapkota, Sanjay Kumar, Rahil Gangjee, Rahul Ganapathy, Roop Singh, Digvijay Singh.

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