Holders Navratna Ahmedabad began their quest to retain the Louis Philippe Cup Inter-City Golf crown in style with an aggregate score of 6-under-138 to be tied at the top with Silverglades Delhi at the Jaypee Greens Golf Resort here on Wednesday.
The champions, who had surprised everyone with their performance last year, rode on the scintillating 5-under-67 from their Sri Lankan recruit Mithun Parera, who completed a bogey free round, and a sedate one-under by the other two players - captain Vikrant Chopra and Vinod Kumar - to make a positive start to their campaign in this nine-team tournament.
The Sri Lankan at the sidelines of the tournament said, "Last year when we entered the Louis Philippe Cup, everybody wrote us off as we didn't have any star golfer in our team but we went on to win the tournament. This year we are the only unchanged team in the competition and our team spirit is high. We are going to fire on all cylinders to win this one again."
According to the rules of the PGTI sanctioned tournament, the aggregate of the best two performers is only taken into consideration to decide the overall standing and that allowed DLF Gurgaon and Silverglades Delhi to share the top spot despite one of their golfer failing to make a mark on the opening day.
Silverglades Delhi were the biggest beneficiaries of the rule as it nullified the 5-over-77 by Himmat Rai, which could have pulled them down despite the identical 3-under-69 from Shamim Khan and Rashid Khan.
Trailing one stroke behind them is DLF Gurgaon, who rode on the fine form of former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Jyoti Randhawa.
The experienced campaigner finished the day 5-under with six birdies and a bogie on the eighth hole. However, his brother-in-law Digvijay Singh and youngster Abhinav Lohan had only a par score to show for their effort and had to settle for the third spot after the first round.
Hosts Jaypee Greens Greater Noida also gave a good account of themselves in their debut season with the man touted to be India's next big hope, Gaganjeet Bhullar, finished the day 5-under to take his team's aggregate to 140.
The 24-year-old, who had a very good 2012 season on the Asian Tour excelled on the front nine scoring three birdies and an eagle on the second hole before a bogey on the eighth pegged him and his team back in the standings.
Sanjay Kumar (72) and R Murthy (73) provided Bhullar the support he needed for the team to remain in contention.
While most of the international stars showed their class on the first day, the experienced Jeev Milkha Singh's team Shubhkamna Noida had a
slow start with his team was languishing in tied seventh spot.
"We have tomorrow's round to turn around the fortunes of the team and I am sure we will raise our game in round 2," he said after the day's play.
Standings: 138 - Navrtna Ahmedabad, Silverglades Delhi
140-Jaypee Greens Greater Noida
141- AVT Kolkata
143-Shubhkamna Noida, TAKE Chennai;
147-Dev Ellora Chandigarh.