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Golf: Thailand's Itthipat retains lead but Joshi keeps his hopes alive at Panasonic Open

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Defending champion Khalin Joshi carded five-under 67 to keep his hopes alive as he joined eight other Indians at tied-fifth place even as Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who had fired an eight-under 64, emerged leader after the first round of the Panasonic Open India at the Classic Golf and Country Club near here today.
 
Myanmar’s Ye Htet Aung, Australia’s Terry Pilkadaris and Indonesia’s Danny Masrin with identical rounds of six-under 66 were at the joint second place.
 
Htet Aung fired his career’s best round of six-under-par 66. He got off to a blistering start with four birdies in his first five holes. He then mixed his card with a bogey on the par-four fourth and another three birdies on holes eighteen, two and seven.
 
Pilkadaris rediscovered his magic touch with his putter as he made just 27 putts to return with a 66 to also stay close to the Thai leader.
 
The first round of the Panasonic Open India resumed at 11 am with the 66 players, who were scheduled for the afternoon rounds yesterday, beginning their campaign. In view of the weather conditions, the tournament has been reduced to a 54-hole event.
 
A four-tee start has again been scheduled for the second round on Saturday so that it can be completed in time for the third and final round which will be played on Sunday.
 
Six more players, five of them Indians, joined the 11-man bunch at 67 and it included defending champion Khalin Joshi, seasoned and in-form Rashid Khan, promising youngsters Karandeep Kochhar and Kshitij Naveed Kaul and a resurgent Vikrant Chopra.
 
They joined Shiv Kapur, Arjun Das, M Dharma and Shankar Das as Hung Chien-yao of Chinese Taipei and Wang Wei-Lun are the non-Indians in the group tied at fifth.
 
The presence of nine Indians in the Top 15 increases the chances of an Indian winner for the eighth time in nine years of the Panasonic Open India and none seemed more determined than Joshi.
 
Joshi opened with a flourish, hitting birdies on three of his first four holes, including a chip-in on the third and a superb approach from 100 yards on the fourth that set up a tap-in. He, however, dropped a couple of strokes midway through his round before  salvaging his round with birdies on his last two holes.
 
“I’m not really happy with my round. I just played five holes well and the rest of it was mostly scrambling. I’m happy with my score but I have a lot more to do as far as my long-game is concerned. That’s the reason I headed straight to the range immediately after my round. I need to sort out a few things with my ball-striking," Joshi said afterwards.
 
“I’m defending my title at a course where I’ve done well in the past with a title under my belt. So I’m quite confident in that sense. After a great start, the two bogeys on the ninth and 11th were disappointing as I was in a good position on both holes. However, it was nice to finish with birdies on the last two holes," he said.
 
Rashid Khan, who has already sealed his card for the Asian Tour next year,  was four-under through nine holes but then had his only bogey of the day on the second., 
 
Rashid, a winner of two events on the PGTI this year, said, “I have some good memories from my last Asian Tour event here at the Classic in September where I finished second. However, I’m striking it better this time around and my confidence is higher as compared to the last event. I’m also making more putts as compared to the event in September.”
 
Karandeep Kochhar also  hit six birdies and a bogey. He created a lot of chances for himself with a high percentage of fairways found and greens in regulation. He however missed birdies from within 10 feet on four occasions.
 
“Overall, despite some missed putts today, there was nothing wrong with my decision-making. I hit the putts exactly like I wanted to, it’s just that the ball didn’t do what I thought it would do but I can live with that,"  said Kochhar, who  had a tied second finish  in this  tournament  in 2017.
 
"Hopefully, I can make some more putts tomorrow. If I keep hitting the ball like I am now I’ll give myself some more chances of doing well here over the next two days, hopefully make some more putts. Let’s see where it gets me because I’m keen to keep my Asian Tour card." he added.
 
Kshitij Naveed Kaul’s bogey-free effort and Vikrant Chopra’s six birdies and a bogey also placed them tied fifth. Aman Raj and Sanjay Kumar are tied 16th with scores of four-under-68.
 
Kaul, who made his pro debut at the Panasonic Open in 2018 and finished Tied-sixth, was happy with his bogey-free round and said, “Today my hitting was good. Putting was also good, I didn't hit any bad putts but just that I misread a few. Even the putts that I missed were good putts but they just didn't go in. I have been working on my approach shots all year to hit them closer.” 
 
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Golf: Thailand's Itthipat leads, four Indians in joint 3rd place at Panasonic Open India

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The Indian foursome of Shiv Kapur, Arjun Prasad, M Dharma and Shankar Das carded identical of five-under 67 and were three shots behind clubhouse leader Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat on the first day of the ninth edition of the $400,000 Panasonic Open India here on Thursday.
 
Twenty-six--year-old Itthipat fired an opening round eight-under-par 64, with seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey during his eight-under 64.
 
His 64 was followed by a 66 from Indonesian Danny Masrin and they were followed by the four Indians along with Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao.
 
The trio of American Ben Geyer, Sri Lankan veteran Anura Rohana and Singaporean Jesse Yap, rounded off the Top 10 with cards of 68 each.
 
The round began at 11 am, four hours and 10 minutes behind schedule, due to poor visibility and the weather conditions. The 60 golfers in the first session of play completed their rounds while the 66 golfers in the second session will play their first round on Friday.
 
2017 winner Shiv Kapur  returned a bogey-free 67. He birdied three of his first four holes adding two more birdies to his card on the sixth and 10th.
 
“I started off playing really well, Thought I played quite solid all day but I did not take advantage of the par 5s as I should have which was disappointing, Only birdied one of them and missed a couple of easy opportunities on the third hole and ninth here I was on the front edge of the green both times," Kapur said after his round.
 
“All in all, I’m pleased with the start, five-under is a solid start but given the way I played and the positions I put myself into, should have been a couple of shots lower, but all in all, it was a good day."
 
The 20-year-old Arjun Prasad was satisfied to have shot a low number after a long time.He  got on a roll from the ninth hole onward as he sank four birdies on the trot. The best of the lot was the birdie on the 10th where he hit a  shot from the fairway bunker, 130 yards out, to land it within a couple of feet of the flag. He thereafter picked up a bogey and a birdie each.
 
“Even though it’s not been a good season for me I know I have the game and still have the self-belief to turn it around. As I struggled with my game, I recently decided to change my approach during practice. I’m now playing more practice rounds and spending lesser time at the range as compared to what I was doing earlier," Prasad said 
 
M Dharma and Shankar Das too struck bogey-free rounds of 67. While Dharma missed a hole-in-one by a whisker on the 17th, Shankar landed it close through the day to set up four birdie conversions within four feet.
 
 Veteran Arjun Atwal made a promising start with a 69 to be tied 11th along with compatriots Viraj Madappa and Aadil Bedi. Jeev Milkha Singh  shot two-under 70 to be  tied 20th along with Om Prakash Chouhan and Gaurav Pratap Singh.  
 
Jyoti Randhawa, celebrating his 300th start on the Asian Tour, shot a 72 to be tied 33rd.
 
“Today was one of those rare occasions where we played in a four-tee start. I think the only other time when I played like this was during an ADT event. But it was okay. I just needed to wear a mask and apart from that, it was business as usual. There was a long wait and it was almost after four hours that I got to tee off,” leader Itthipat said,
 
Itthipat, who turned pro in 2014 revealed, “I fell asleep once during that wait. I couldn’t really see where the ball was beyond 250 yards as I’m short-sighted so I had to rely on my caddie’s advice. But overall, it was okay. I managed to play well despite everything and I’m very proud of myself.”
 
The score was still short of the course of record of 62, shot three times in the 2009 SAIL Open – twice by Chapchai Nirat and once by Anirban Lahiri.
 
Masrin, who like Itthipat started on the sixth, said, “It’s not usual to start my round in the middle of the golf course and I just take it as it is because I know the tournament organisers have to do whatever they can to get the tournament going. It turned out to be alright as I birdied that first hole and hit some good iron shots today. I managed to judge the rough pretty well today and made a few putts. The weather conditions didn’t really play up too much on my mind. It is what it is and I just played one shot at a time. We are in this together and trying to see where our balls end up.”
 
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Golf: The 'Trio' is back for Panasonic Open India

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Once known as the "Big Three" of Indian golf, Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa will be seen in action in the ninth edition of the Panasonic Open India beginning at the Classic Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.
 
Jeev turned pro in 1993, Randhawa in 1994 and Atwal in 1995. The three have been former Asia No.1. Randhawa was No. 1 in 2002; Atwal in 2003 and Jeev in 2006 and 2008. Anirban Lahiri followed them in 2015 and Shubhankar Sharma in 2018.
 
Randhawa became the first Indian to win in Japan in 2003, while Jeev won twice each in 2006 and 2008. While Jeev went off to play in Japan for many years starting 2000, Randhawa also played in Japan for a few years. 
 
Atwal never played on Japan Tour as a member, though he became the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour in the US. Atwal is still the only Indian to have won on the PGA Tour back in 2010 at the Wyndham Championship.
 
Atwal and Randhawa won eight times each on Asian Tour and Jeev won six times. Jeev’s career wins also include four more in Japan and European Tours, while Atwal’s three European Tour wins were co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. Randhawa won eight times on the Asian Tour and once in Japan.
 
This week Randhawa will also become the first Indian to tee up for the 300th time on the Asian Tour. “Well, you know what, it doesn't seem that long. I remember my first tournament and 300 feels a long time, but it doesn't feel that long. I'm just feeling great having played so many events, I didn't realize it.”
 
“Winning the Indian Opens was good because you know, you’re a local boy and you are able to win in your own country. I won three of them actually. The first one was special and it was on this golf course,” he said.
 
“The best year on the Asian Tour was when I won the Order of Merit in 2002. In 2000, I won two events, I won the Singapore Open and the Indian Open in the same year. I have a lot of good memories," he added
 
“It is great whenever I get to meet Arjun or Jyoti. These days we don’t often get to play at the same event, though we did that a lot in our heydays,” Jeev said, after the Pro-Am on Wednesday.
 
“I cannot even recall when we met first. It was that long back. We must have been in our early teens and our careers have run almost parallel, though we all turned pro around the same time in the mid-1990s,” he recalled.
 
Atwal said, “Those days we did not have many Indian pros on international Tours, now we have pros on every Tour and Indians are good enough to win any week in Asia. A whole bunch of Indians are playing all around the world; like US (Anirban), Japan (Rahil Gangjee) and Europe (Shubhankar, Gaganjeet, SSP) and a whole lot on Asian Tour. 
 
"These boys are very motivated and I love interacting with them. For instance, last year we were all together in Indonesia at the season-ending event. Jeev celebrated his birthday and Shubhankar had just become No. 1 in Asia. Anirban, SSP Chawrasia, Bhullar were among those there. It was a great celebration.”
 
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Golf: Will Khalin Joshi be able to break the jinx at Panasonic Open India

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Will Khalin Joshi be able to break the jinx?
 
This is the big question being asked as no player has won the Panasonic Open India more than once and Khalin Joshi is the defending champion.
 
Joshi, who had a series of Top-10s before grabbing his first win at the Panasonic Open India, will be hoping to buck the trend and become the first repeat winner. A bunch of talented Indians from Shiv Kapur to Khalin Joshi, Ajeetesh Sandhu, Rashid Khan, Viraj Madappa, S Chikkrangappa, Aadil Bedi among others could lift that lovely trophy besides winning the Blue Jacket, that has become the tradition for winners of Panasonic Open India.
 
Joshi  will try to extend his lease on the title  among the select band to try and do it for the first time, when the event tees off at a new venue.  The $400,000 full-field Asian Tour event will be played from November 14-17 at the Classic Golf and Country Club here for the first time. The previous editions were held at the Delhi Golf Club.
 
The 2019 edition will see five of the eight previous winners return to the event with Joshi leading the way and Shiv Kapur, Mukesh Kumar, Chiragh Kumar and Digvijay Singh giving him company in the winners’ gallery.
 
Players from as many as 17 countries have entered for the event, which has become well-known for producing Indian winners. Seven of the eight winners going back to 2011 have been Indian, but no one has been able to repeat the success.
 
The international challenge will be led by Asian Tour winners like Rory Hie of Indonesia, who won the Classic Golf & Country Club Championship at the same course in September, Thais Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, Prom Meesawat and Danthai Boonma, Argentine Miguel Carballo, Filipino Miguel Tabuena and Australian Jason Norris, among others.
 
Another highlight of the event will be the presence of India’s ‘Big Three’ Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa, all of them now senior professionals. Between them they have won titles on every major Tour of the world, ranging from US PGA to European, Asian and Japan Tours. They have been the standard torchbearers of Indian golf for more than two decades and they, more than anyone else, would be pleased to see the revolution in Indian professional golf. It was they, after all, who set the wheels in motion.
 
The generation next to them now being led by Shiv Kapur, Anirban Lahiri, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shubhankar Sharma, ply their trade on Asian, European and PGA Tours. And they, in turn, have inspired the current crop including Ajeetesh Sandhu, Khalin Joshi, Rashid Khan and many others.
 
An excited Joshi says, “It’s going to be exciting defending my first Asian Tour title. I like the golf course and my game is getting more positive and I’m confident. The win is still very fresh on my mind. I putted and drove the ball really well that week. There are positive signs now as I’m getting those similar feelings like last year. I just got to just block out unnecessary thoughts like I’m the defending champion and just play my own game.”
 
Joshi produced a dramatic finish when he fired four birdies in his closing five holes to sign for a four-under-par 68 and clinched his maiden Asian Tour title by one shot over Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman, who finished runner-up for the third time. “The Classic Golf and Country Club is a lovely course and it’s not very long. But it demands good driving and good putting as well. If you can put the ball on the fairway and putt well, you’re going to be up there on the leaderboard for sure,” said Joshi.
 
Joshi has not been as steady as he was a year ago, with his best finish this season being a tied-19th result in Chinese Taipei last month. “I have not enjoyed a great season so far, but I hope to play well every week and put myself in a good position so that I can put myself in a winning situation again,” said Joshi.
 
"The win last year at the Panasonic Open obviously helped me. I have been to every event this year but haven't really capitalised on all the opportunities, but looking forward to starting it from this week. The game is feeling good so looking forward to having a good week and finishing the year on a high.
 
"I have played well on this golf course throughout my career -- be it junior, amateur or professional, so I have good memories of this course. I really like the track so I'm looking forward to gaining some confidence. Overall this course really suits my game," the defending champion said.
 
With the 2019 season nearing its end, Indian golfers collectively need to ensure that their amazing streak of having won at least one international professional title is maintained. After six wins, including one on the Asian Development Tour, Indians have not won any in 2019.
 
Indians have also been formidable on home turf – their seven wins in eight stagings of the Panasonic being a solid proof of that – but the two events held earlier this year in India have not produced an Indian winner. Rashid Khan at T-10 with S Chikkarangappa at the Hero Indian Open, and Rashid again at second, was the best Indian in both the events held in India this year. With a strong Indian presence in the full field event, local fans will be hoping for another home win and that could well come from one of the new faces waiting for their breakthrough on the Asian Tour.
 
Another title contender Gaganjeet Bhullar also exuded confidence about  performing well. "I've never won so far in India and last year was really good when I got my first European Tour win in Fiji," he said, adding, "This year I started off really well but the second half of the European Tour was not as good as I was expecting. But right now I'm feeling good, the body is feeling good and I'm hitting the ball well. 
 
"I'm playing on this golf course after a gap of ten years. Last time I played here, I shot 22-under and I lost the tournament by ten shots. It is a great golf course and I'm feeling confident to play well this week."
 
Shiv Kapur, the other hopeful, admitted that he had a lacklustre season thus far. "Last week, was at a golf course where I've had success in the past. Two years ago Gaganjeet and I tied for second place there and obviously I had my first Asian Tour win there. So anytime you go to a golf course where you've had some success, it gives you a lot of confidence. And hopefully, I can carry that confidence that I gained last week into this week. It was obviously disappointing not to win, but standing on the 14th tee in the final round, I was five or six shots back. So, didn't really think I had a shot. So to even get into the playoff was a bonus."
 
Indonesian Rory Hie said, "I feel I have been learning a lot since my win here. I have got into events that I normally wouldn't have gone into without the win and getting to play with good golfers and good courses. The course is definitely playing differently than six weeks ago. You can now actually see the ball from fifty yards out and it seems to be a really good condition."
 
The Panasonic Open India is the second leg in the third edition of the Asian Tour’s 2019-20 Panasonic Swing, which is a ranking based on an aggregate points race that spans five events with the final top-three players chasing a share of a lucrative bonus pool.
 
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Golf: Joshi bidding to create history at Panasonic Open India

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Khalin Joshi will make a determined bid to become the first player to defend his title when the ninth edition of the $400,000 Panasonic Open India is held at the Classic Golf and Country Club from November 14-17.
 
So far no defending champion has been able to repeat the feat since the tournament started in 2011 but Joshi is hoping to be the first to do that.
 
“It’s going to be exciting defending my first Asian Tour title. I like the golf course and my game is getting more positive and I’m confident.
 
“The win is still very fresh on my mind. I putted and drove the ball really well that week. There are positive signs now as I’m getting those similar feelings like last year. I just got to just block out unnecessary thoughts like I’m the defending champion and just play my own game,” said Joshi.
 
Last year, Joshi produced a dramatic finish when he fired four birdies in his closing five holes to sign for a four-under-par 68 and clinch his maiden Asian Tour title by one shot over Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman.
 
 “The Classic Golf and Country Club is a lovely course and it’s not very long. But it demands good driving and good putting as well. If you can put the ball on the fairway and putt well, you’re going to be up there (leaderboard) for sure.
 
As the 2019 Asian Tour season nears its climax, the Indian hopes to end his year on a high note having struggled to reach the heights of 2018 where his best finish this season was only a tied-19th result in Chinese Taipei last month.
 
“I have not enjoyed a great season so far, but I hope to play well every week and put myself in a good position so that I can put myself in a winning situation again,” said Joshi.
 
The Panasonic Open India will also kick off the third edition of the Asian Tour’s 2019/20 Panasonic Swing, which is a ranking based on an aggregate points race that spans five events with the final top-three players chasing a share of a lucrative bonus pool.
 
Golfers from  16 countries, will be seen in action in this full-field Asian Tour event, making it an international event.
 
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10 hurt as double-decker bus overturns near Manesar

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As many as 10 passengers were injured after a double-decker bus overturned on the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway near Manesar on Thursday.
 
According to eyewitnesses, the Gold Line double-decker bus, on its way to Delhi from Jaipur, lost control at a sharp turn around 5 p.m. It jumped the divider and overturned on the other side of the road. The bus was moving at more than 80 kmph speed.
 
A Gurugram Police officer said the bus was carrying over 25 passengers. Of them, 4 suffered serious injuries. The locals broke the windshield to rescue injured passengers before the PCR reached.
 
Subhash Bokan, PRO of the Gurugram Police, said, "The investigation is underway and the accused driver will be arrested soon."
 
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Golf: Christine Wolf wins Hero Women's Indian Open, Anika Verma finishes fifth

Christine Wolf
Christine Wolf
Teenager Anika Verma hogged the spotlight finishing a creditable fifth in a very strong field as Australian Christine Wolf buried the ghosts of the past with a bogey-free final round to clinch the Hero Women’s Indian Open for her maiden Ladies European Tour title at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Sunday.
 
The HWIO and the DLF Golf and Country Club are becoming a happy hunting ground for first-time winners. Following Welsh veteran Becky Morgan’s breakthrough win after 19 long years on the Ladies European Tour in 2018, it was the 30-year-old Austrian Wolf’s turn as she grabbed her first title after six years on the Tour.
 
Wolf showed no nervousness on the final day as she delivered a commanding bogey-free final round of 69 to total 11-under 277 and win with rounds of 73, 68, 67 and 69. She finished three shots ahead of Marianne Skarpnord (70 and eight-under) and four ahead of MacLaren (72 and seven-under). Whitney Hillier, the halfway co-leader, shot 72 and was sole fourth at six-under.
 
Indians had a lot to cheer for as well, with a strong display from top amateur Anika Varma, who finished in fifth place with a 3-under par aggregate of 285 and a final day card of two-under 70.
 
The 15-year-old Anika was one shot ahead of best-placed home professional Tvesa Malik, who was tied sixth at one-under 287. A year ago, Tvesa had finished as the best home golfer at tied-13th alongside Gaurika Bishnoi, so Sunday’s result was significant progress for the LET rookie as well.
 
Among other Indians, Astha Madan (70 and 2-over 290) was Tied-19th, Vani Kapoor (75 and 3-over 291) was T-21st, Diksha Dagar (74 and 7-over 295) was Tied-32nd, Amandeep Drall (78 and 9-over 297) was T-37th, amateur Pranavi Urs (75 and 11-over 299) and Gaurika Bishnoi (77 and 11-over 299) were Tied-47th, amateur Jahnavi Bakshi (76 and 14-over 302) was Tied-57th and another amateur Seher Atwal (79 and 16-over 304) was Tied-61st.
 
“I was pretty nervous in the beginning but as soon as I hit my first tee shot I felt fine. I had a good group (with Sweden’s Emma Nilsson and Manon De Roey of Belgium) today and I enjoyed playing with them. That helped me play well too." she said.
 
“I was pretty consistent today, just had one double (bogey) on the 16th. Before that, I was doing pretty good and I didn’t miss a single regulation before the 16th hole, I think only that one and the 18th, which was the highlight of my day.”
 
Tvesa said, “I think it was a little bit more of a struggle but I am happy with my overall performance for the week. I think I am happy with my game and the way I handled the pressure on the course, so I’m quite pleased overall."
 
“I missed a lot of putts so that wasn’t a great part of my game. On the 18th hole, I definitely wasn’t expecting that to happen at all (chip-in from off the green) so I’m glad I could make a birdie from there." she added.
 
Anika Verma
Anika Verma
Last year, Wolf fumbled twice. First on the third day while being well ahead and on the final day, when she was tied for the lead. She shot a quadruple bogey on the third day and a double bogey on the final day and finished Tied-second allowing Morgan to grab the title. This time, there was to be no such error.
 
Forgotten were the memories of a hole that had cost her eight shots over the week last year. As on Saturday, Wolf sent her third shot sailing on to the green and calmly two-putted for the $75,000 winner’s cheque and a maiden Tour trophy which she received from Hero MotoCorp Chairman Pawan Munjal.
 
“I’m super happy obviously with this first LET win, but also that I did it here,” said a beaming Wolf. “Everyone knew of last year’s drama coming into the week here so to win by three shots was very nice. But you can’t get ahead of yourself in golf and I was obviously a little nervous.”
 
In fact, from Saturday itself it was evident that the Austrian would be the one to beat in the closing stages and so it turned out as Wolf picked up early momentum to gain three shots in her front nine and never let the advantage go with a clean back nine for a 3-under round of 69 and an 11-under par aggregate of 277.
 
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Golf: Anika, Tvesa are tied-ninth as Christine Wolf takes lead at HWIO

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Fifteen-year-old Anika Verma carded a stunning five-under 67 and along with Tvesa Malik was at Tied-ninth as Australian Christine Wolf with a birdie on the 18th emerged sole leader after 54 holes in the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the Gary Player course at DLF Golf and Country Club here on Saturday.
 
Wolf, whose scores at the 18th this year have been Par-Par-Birdie, also returned 67, her best at this  course. She is now eight-under and one shot clear of Meghan MacLaren (69), whose only previous visit to the event produced a Tied-ninth finish in 2017. 
 
Another shot behind at seven-under 209 was Marianne Skarpnord (71), the highest-ranked player from the LET Order of Merit in this field.
 
For the hosts, amateur Anika Varma  gave the fans a lot to cheer for with a superb  67, that equalled Johanna Gustavsson’s card and later leader Wolf also shot the same. Anika had six birdies, five of them on the front nine, against one bogey on 17th. Tvesa Malik followed her even-par 72-72 with a 71 to get to one-under 215. 
 
DLF regular Vani Kapoor was tied-13th at level par 216 (74, 70,72) following a steady round, in the course of which she swapped two bogeys for as many birdies, while Amandeep Drall could not build on her momentum of Friday with a 3-over 75 that dropped her into a tie for 27th place at 3-over 219. Astha Madan was next best at 4-over 220 (73, 75, 72) with her first par round of the week.
 
Diksha Dagar too left shots out on the course and is now tied 36th at 5-over 221 (72, 73, 76) and Gaurika Bishnoi, the joint best Indian finisher with Tvesa last year, was T42 at 6-over 222 (73, 74, 75).
 
Now based in the United States, Anika, till recently India’s top-ranked junior and a qualifier in the US Girls Championship earlier in the year, looked poised to bring in a bogey-free card till she dropped a shot on the intimidating par-4 17th hole. That was her only blemish of the day as she showed great composure and calm.
 
Wolf who  has never won on the Ladies European Tour, though she came within touching distance of it a year ago at this very event before falling foul at the 18th, may well have buried the demons of the past.
 
The relief was there for all to see as her third shot sailed over the dangerous lake and landed five feet from the flag for a birdie that has taken her five visits to register at the closing hole.
 
It was Wolf’s first birdie at the 18th in five starts on this course. Last year her scores at the 18th were a nightmare with DB-Par-Quadruple-DB (7-5-9-7).That single Par-5 hole cost her eight shots and she ended second by two as Becky Morgan won the trophy.
 
Wolf admitted she had a point to prove and said, “I love coming to India anyway. The people are super friendly, the weather is great and the course is amazing and then I think also, because of what happened last year…”
 
She confessed it took a long time to get over that. “The caddie keeps talking about it, so it's sort of there, but I have practised a lot, especially those shots and I have been hitting my wedges really well.”
 
“It took me a while. I don’t know how long exactly but it just kept coming up. It did at the start of the season, not anymore,” she added.
 
Wolf, whose sole success has been the team title at the European Championships last year, was famously four clear after two rounds in the 2018 edition, only to lose that lead with a quadruple bogey on nine in the third. In the final round, she was again tied with leader Becky Morgan at seven-under before dropping a double on the last.
 
As MacLaren moved up a place from third to second, Skarpnord dropped one down to be Tied-third with the second-round leader, Australian Whitney Hillier(72). Linda Wessberg (76), Tied-third overnight, had a triple on 10th and a bogey on 18th, to drop to Tied-13th. Norway’s Tonje Daffinrud (68) was fifth.
 
Speaking of last year, Wolf added, “It was the first time I’d really been up there for three days and then on the last day I fought back and was up there again and then I hit that same shot. It just makes you think about what you could have done differently."
 
She went on, “From the start of the season I was just thinking I can’t wait to be in India. I mean, Becky played really well last year, but I feel I played well on 17 holes every day.  Then the 18th happened on Saturday and again Sunday."
 
She knows it is still not over. “There are still 18 holes to play and a lot of holes to go so in golf you can never say I deserve it. I just enjoy coming here and I guess the course suits my eye.”
 
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Golf: Amandeep Drall best Indian at tied-8th, Whitney Hillier takes sole lead at HWIO

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Local favourite shot 70 and was tied-eighth with two-under 142 while Australian Whitney Hillier rounded off with two birdies to emerge the sole leader at the end of the second round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open at  DLF Golf and Country Club here  on Friday. 
 
Overnight co-leader Hillier had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine but a double bogey on the 10th set her back. She fought back with four birdies in the last seven holes to take the lead. 
 
Amandeep, a consistent player on the domestic circuit, who has never had a Top-10 finish in an LET event, finished her day with three birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th which are considered the toughest stretch on the Gary Player course.  She returned two under to be  Tied-eighth.
 
Hillier who shot five-under on the first day for a share of the lead, dropped to three-under at one stage but fought back superbly in the last seven holes to rise to the top at six-under and was one ahead of Marianne Skarpnord (68-71), who had the clubhouse lead for the most part of the day. 
 
The first round co-leader Meghan MacLaren dropped back to shared third place alongside Linda Wessberg of Sweden at 2-under 140. 
 
Three players including Christine Wolf (73-68) were Tied-fifth at three-under 141, while another three others were Tied-eighth at two-under 142. 
 
With the cut  being applied at seven-over, 68 players made the weekend rounds and that included 10 Indians, four of them amateurs, auguring well for Indian women’s golf. 
  
"I was very calm all day. I stayed in the present and just tried to hit the best shots I could. It was actually very challenging with the wind so I had to judge that quite a lot. I hit a couple of really good shots but got punished. Had some really good putts coming in though," said Hillier on her day’s progress.
 
She added, “I had a few steady pars to start off with. Had one bogey then I got it back pretty quickly. And then I was 2-over after 10th. The 10th hasn't been very good to me so far but I am going to get it back on the weekend. I made a few good birdies coming in and then obviously at the 17th and 18th, was good to finish with those last two putts. So very happy with today.” 
 
In the morning, Skarpnord, who is the highest-ranked player on LET rankings in this week’s field, seemed to be in a bother as she turned in two-over on the back nine, which was her front nine. She had a triple bogey on 11th and a bogey on the 16th against birdies on 13th and 18th. She rebounded strongly on the second nine with birdies on the first, third, fourth and fifth to get to six-under before dropping a shot on sixth to finish 36 holes in five-under. 
 
Skarpnord said, “I had an early tee time today and I was pretty sure I was awake, but obviously I was not. Had a little 7 (3-over) there on the 11th hole, not a great start to the round. But I did my best to just forget about it. I said to myself on the next tee to forget about what had just happened. If you are going to go on thinking about it for the next 16 holes, you might as well just go home.” 
 
Tvesa Malik (72-72) and Vani Kapoor (74-70) played steadily to ensure passage past the cut and are Tied-15th. Starting from the 10th, Tvesa was one-over for the back nine, her first nine, and one-under for the front nine of the course just like the first day. 
 
Also starting on 10th, Kapoor, sixth in 2017, was one-under for back nine and on the front stretch she had two birdies and one bogey.   The bravest Indian on the second day was Diksha Dagar (72-73), who started the day with a quadruple bogey. She hit the far right and went back to the tee and had a four-putt on the green for an eight. She fought back with three birdies on third, fourth and eighth. Again she dropped shots on 11th and 12th, only to birdie the 13th and 14th. Then she saved an improbable par on the 18th hole after hitting into the water with the first shot. Her approach shot, which became her third shot, sailed over the water and curled along and found its way into the cup from 115 yards for a par. She is one-over 145 and Tied-22nd. 
 
Gaurika  Bishnoi (73-74) was Tied-31st, while fast-rising amateur Anika Varma (76-72) and Astha Madan (73-75) were in shared 37th place at 4-over 148. Amateurs Jahnavi Bakshi (74-76) and Pranavi Urs (71-79) were Tied-51st at 6-over 150. Yet another amateur Seher Atwal (74-77), studying in the US, just made the grade at 7-over 151. 
 
Missing out were some big names, including defending champion Becky Morgan (77-80) of Wales and pre-tournament favourite Carly Booth (81-76) of Scotland, both of who finished on 13-over par 152. 
 
Meanwhile  the Par-3 16th was the scene of much jubilation once again as Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald gave herself an early birthday present with a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th using a 7-iron during the second round. She turns 29 on Saturday. 
 
Kelsey also used the same club as Jyotsana Singh did on the first day to get the ace at the same hole. She  (76-72) was actually six-over for the tournament with three holes left when she landed the hole-in-one. It brought her to four-over and with pars on 17 and 18, she stayed there to make the cut and is T-36. 
 
The DLF Golf and Country Club has been a good hunting ground for Scots in recent times. Stephen Gallacher won the Hero Indian Open for men this year, and in 2017, Duncan Stewart had won a BMW M3 with an ace on the fifth hole. 
 
Jyotsana Singh (73-89) who had an ace on Thursday suffered a 16-shot swing and missed the cut. 
 
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MacLaren, Hillier share lead; Pranavi top Indian at 10th at Hero Women's Indian Open

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Mysore-based 16-year-old amateur Pranavi Urs carded two late birdies to climb to Tied-10th place as England’s Meghan MacLaren and Whitney Hilliers of Australia shared the lead at 5-under 67 after the first day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.
 
Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and England’s Liz Young were tied third at four-under 68 each while Swede Linda Wessberg (69) was fifth.
 
Four players, including Europe’s Solheim Cup-winning captain, Catriona Matthew, were tied-sixth on 2-under 70 and another eight players shot 71s to be Tied-10th including Pranavi.
 
For defending champion Becky Morgan and 2017 winner Camille Chevalier, though, it was a day to forget. While the Frenchwoman was 3-over 75 and tied 58th, Morgan was three shots further behind on 6-over 78 and tied 80th.
 
Pranavi Urs, a past winner on the domestic pro tour, even while being an amateur, picked up shots on her final two holes for a one-under-par card of 71 to be the best-placed Indian on the first day but she was four shots behind the two leaders.
 
Adding to the action on the first day was Lucknow-based 19-year-old Jyotsana Singh, a late entrant, who aced the par-3 16th. She had an interesting finish – four bogeys between 13th and 18th with an ace in between on 16th for 73. She closed with two bogeys.
 
MacLaren said later, “It was a bit of a mixture. I made a lot of birdies and was really, really positive. Thought I left some birdies out there, did a couple of really stupid things but I can’t really complain.
 
“It wasn’t very nice to get up at 4 am but for the first hour you have an empty course in front of you and really pure greens so that was nice though it got bad later, really burning hot., It just kept getting stickier and stickier out there.”
 
“I had six birdies in total. I made a bogey on the first hole that I got back very quickly, which I was very happy with. Thought I hit it really well out there, hit it close all day and gave myself lots of birdie chances, which is good.”Hillier said.
 
“The course is in great shape, much different from what it was when I was last here in 2015. It’s changed a lot since then, it’s just really impressive; a very, very beautiful golf course, one of the best in the world, I would say.”
 
Pranavi, teeing off in the afternoon, played a steady out-bound nine to make the turn on level par 36. Though she dropped a shot early, back to back birdies in the final two holes made sure she would be the only Indian to go under par on the opening day.
 
Even as the teenager carded 71 and earned the bragging rights for being the best Indian among the 22 playing here, there was Diksha Dagar and domestic tour regulars Amandeep Drall and Tvesa Malik in Tied-18th place with 72 each.
 
Amandeep mixed three gained shots against three bogeys in her round, finishing off with an excellent birdie on the ninth hole, her last of the day with the pin awkwardly placed on a shelf right at the back of the green.
 
Diksha had an even more adventurous day in the course in which she hit five birdies but squandered those gains with three bogeys and a double, while Tvesa had a more sedate round, her two birdies cancelling out two dropped shots. In each case, the final score for the day could have been a better one.
 
One shot behind them on 1-over par 73 and tied in 28th place were Neha Tripathi, Gaurika Bishnoi, Astha Madan and 19-year-old tour rookie Jyotsana Singh, who recorded the only hole-in-one on Thursday. 
 
A further shot behind at 74 in shared 42nd were amateurs Seher Atwal and Jahnavi Bakshi, along with Vani Kapoor, for whom the DLF GCC is her home course.
 
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Golf: Carly Booth hopes to be ninth time lucky at Hero Women’s Indian Open

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Scotland's Carly Booth is hoping that she will be ninth time lucky in the 2019 edition of the $ 500,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open (HWIO) Golf, which will tee off at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on October 3.
 
Currently No. 7 on the Ladies European Tour, the Scottish star  will be one of the leading lights at the tournament.
 
She hopes to follow the footsteps of Becky Morgan, who won the title here in her ninth appearance at HWIO  last year. Booth will be hoping that nine is her lucky number, too, as she has made eight previous visits to India for the flagship women’s golf event of the country. 
 
The HWIO celebrates its 10th anniversary on the Ladies European Tour and is now in its 13th staging. The tournament first began in 2007 with a purse of US $ 100,000 and it grew to US $ 300,000 when Hero took over the title sponsorship in 2010.
 
It is now worth half a million dollars, which is equivalent to approximately Rs. 3.6 crore. The winner takes home US $ 75,000, approximately Rs. 54 lakh.
 
The Indian challenge will be led by Diksha Dagar, winner of the South African Women’s Open. The other leading Indians are Tvesa Malik, Gauri Bishnoi, Ridhima Dilawari, Astha Madan, Smriti Mehra, Vani Kapoor, Amandeep Drall and Gursimar Badwal.
 
Some of the established international participants who have entered the field include the defending champion Becky Morgan, the 2017 winner Camille Chevalier, other leading names like Beth Allen and Becky Brewerton, both former LET Order of Merit winners and other LET winners including Meghan MacLaren, Marianne Skarpnord, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, Astrid Vayson de Pradenne, Florentyna Parker and Linda Wessberg. 
 
However, the HWIO has not always been kind to Booth, as she has missed the cut the last five times from 2014 to 2018. She also came in 2010, 2011 and 2012 while 2013 has been the only edition she has missed in this decade. Her best at the event has been T-22 in 2012, which incidentally was the year when Carly won her first two Ladies European Tour titles.
 
Now she comes back to India again, but having ended that title drought this season with a win last month at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open. She is in good form and will be among those to watch for at the DLF’s Gary Player-designed Black Knight course as she is also familiar with the course.
 
Booth turned professional after a stellar amateur career in 2010.  The ongoing season has seen something of a turnaround in her fortunes. Besides the Czech Ladies Open win, she has had three top-five finishes from 14 LET tournament.
 
She was fourth at the Canberra Classic in Australia, and has had two fifth places at the South African Women’s Open in March and the US Women’s Open Qualifier this May at Buckinghamshire.
 
The Manchester-based golfer said after her win at the Golf Resort Karlštejn, “I’m a little bit flabbergasted by the whole day. I played good golf and I really had to dig deep in the final round. I’m overwhelmed with happiness. It’s been seven years (since her last win), so it’s a bit of a shock. Not knowing what the winning score was, I didn’t know anything about the leader board and I made a really solid par in the end.”
 
At the HWIO, Booth will have countrywoman Catriona Mathew for company. Mathew will be in India for the first time after successfully piloting Europe to a dramatic final-day last-match win over the United States at Gleneagles in Scotland three weeks ago.
 
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Golf: Rory Hie keeps Rashid, others at bay to win CGCC Championship

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Indonesia’s Rory Hie warded off a strong Indian challenge as he played a flawless four-under-par 68 to win the inaugural $300,000 Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship by two shots on Sunday. 
 
At one point, Hie, Rashid Khan and Korean Byungjun Kim were all in a tie at the top of the leader-board after the 13th hole before the Indonesian ripped off three birdies in a row and Rashid bogeyed the 15th to fall two behind. That was the turning point.
 
As Hie shot 68 to finish at 21-under, Rashid stayed in the hunt till he mishit the 15th tee shot, carded 69 to reach 19-under and tie for second alongside Kim (67). Rashid’s bogey on 15th, coupled with Hie’s birdie on the same hole, ended the Indian’s chances as the Indonesian playing in India for the seventh year in a row, made no mistakes and parred the last three holes.
 
The 31-year old Indonesian, who led all  through the tournament, was determined to seal his maiden win and demonstrated that resolve with an opening birdie on the first hole. ?Despite being under intense pressure from the chasing pack, he maintained his composure by marking his card with 11 straight pars before a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th hole  to seal his victory.
 
"It was always my dream to walk up the 18th green with a two-shot lead and that’s what happened,” said Hie who became the first-ever from his country to become a title-winner on the Asian Tour against a few top-five finishes in the past on the erstwhile One Asia Tour even though he was ranked in the world’s top six as an amateur.
 
After receiving the trophy and winner’s cheque of $54,000.  he said “It’s not really sunk in yet. But this has to be the biggest day of my life, no matter what happens from here on."
 
However, there was much to cheer for the Indians as a bunch of young stars finished in prominent positions with four of them featuring in the top eight.
 
For Rashid, the finish was somewhat disappointing though he downplayed it. He had moved to within one shot of Hie overnight. On Sunday, though, he just could not ignite his challenge. “I was just one shot behind after the 14th but hit a bad shot on the 15th which I bogeyed and Rory birdied. Just could not recover from that,” said Rashid, who got his third Top-10 finish in six starts on Asian Tour this year.
 
“Today was a little up and down for me. Couldn't find the fairways in the start at the front nine and missed a lot of greens. Somewhere on the course I think I went against myself. My game is to attack the flag and I went a little safe today. Maybe it was because I was not able to find the fairways and, from the rough, it is really tough to control the ball,” he added.
 
Young  Aadil Bedi (66) in only his seventh Asian Tour start, logged his career-high fourth place at 18-under. Aman Raj (66) equalled his career-best and Abhijit Chadha (71) achieved a new personal best on Asian Tour. Both were Tied-fifth at 16-under.
 
"I found something after my chip on the 13th hole lipped out. After that, I just played more aggressive golf. Also, earlier in the week, I should have been a bit more patient and attacked the flag selectively. But this is all part of a learning process for me and I am glad to get my first top-5 finish and that too on home ground.” Aadil said.
 
There were further celebrations in store for the hosts at this Jack Nicklaus-designed course with another six players making inside Top-20 for a total of 10 among the Top-20. Veer Ahlawat (66) and Karan Pratap Singh (67) were Tied-13th at 12-under and another four Kshitij Naveed Kaul (67), Karandeep Kochhar (68), Shivendra Singh Sisodia (68) and Viraj Madappa (69) were Tied-17th at 11-under.
 
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Impressive start by Aadil Bedi, Aman Raj as Rory Hie leads at Classic Golf & Country Club Championship

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Promising Indian youngsters Aadil Bedi and Aman Raj got off to a promising start as they carded identical 5-under 67 on the opening day of the $ 300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship on Thursday.
 
Eighteen-year-old Aadil and 24-year-old Aman were  placed tied fifth, three shots behind the leader Rory Hie of Indonesia.
 
Rory Hie, still looking for his maiden Asian Tour win, shot eight-under 64, including a five-under 31, on the back nine of the course, while three Thais -- Sattaya Supupramai, who has been coming to India each year since 2008, Suradit Yongcharoenchai and Kwanchai Tannin -- were on six-under 66s at tied-second place. 
 
In the morning, Gareth Paddison of New Zealand was on fire as he raced through the back nine of the course in seven-under, before he had a triple bogey on the first, his 10th hole of the day. He ran out of birdies and also bogeyed the Par-5 ninth to finish three-under after being seven-under at one stage.
 
The other four Indians in the top 10 were Rashid Khan, Ranjit Singh, Abhijit Chadha and Himmat Rai, all placed tied-eighth with matching scores of 68.
 
Bedi started off well with a 25-feet birdie conversion on the second followed by another birdie on the third. Bedi then narrowly missed an eagle from eight feet on the ninth but managed to salvage a birdie there.
 
He had a setback when he bogeyed the 11th after finding the bunker but he roared back with three more birdies on the 14th, 16th and 18th where he drained a couple of putts from a range of six to seven feet.  
 
Bedi said, “I didn't have any expectations when I started. It's my fifth week in a row playing a tournament so I just tried to play my own game. I am trying to find my groove, stay in the game and follow my processes.
 
“I have been playing this course for over 6-7 years now. I grew up playing here and have played a lot of junior and amateur golf here. So, I know the course and what challenges it presents. 
 
“The season has been good so far. I am developing my game and have been practising hard. It is just about time when I find the right scores.
 
“I played the Monday qualifiers of the Korn Ferry Tour in the United States, finished 8th and missed just by 2 positions. I gained a lot of experience there.”
 
Aman Raj’s flawless effort featured two terrific approach shots that stopped five feet from the flag on the 16th and seventh. He also played some tremendous chip shots to set up birdies within four feet of the hole on the 14th, third and ninth.
 
Aman, a winner on the Tata Steel PGTI last year, said, “I’ve enjoyed some good starts at Asian Tour events this year but haven’t finished those events well. I guess it’s part of the learning curve for me since this is my first full season on the tour. This week I have an opportunity to make amends since I’ve gotten off to another encouraging start.
 
“I just feel my game is getting better with every passing week thanks to the experience I’m gaining by playing in Asia. I need to stick to my routine and focus on finishing the week with good scores.”
 
Rashid Khan made the turn at two-under before producing a great bunker shot on the third to set up a tap-in birdie. Khan then had another breakthrough on the par-3 fifth when his tee shot landed within a couple of feet of the flag.
 
Rashid said, “After I lost my Asian Tour card at the end of last year, I decided to play on a country spot rather than going to the Asian Tour Q School to qualify for the tour. The decision seems to be paying off for me as I’ve done well so far this season with two top-10s and a top-20.”
 
Viraj Madappa was among the 10 Indians occupying tied 18th place at 69.Chikkarangappa and Ajeetesh Sandhu were a further shot back in tied 36th place. Khalin Joshi’s 73 placed him tied 94th.
 
Jyoti Randhawa, the only Indian to have won an Asian Tour event at  this venue  started off with a 75 to be tied 124th.
 
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Golf: Chance for young Indians to show their potential against strong foreign challenge

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Bengaluru’s trio of Viraj Madappa, S Chikkarangappa and Khalin Joshi will spearhead the home challenge as they take on in-form Korean Taehee Lee and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura at the inaugural US $300,000 Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship beginning here tomorrow.
 
Bank BRI Indonesia Open winner Miguel Carballo of Argentina will be another strong contender this week as will be South African Daniel Van Tonder, who comes in with four Top-15 finishes in last five starts on the Asian and Sunshine Tour in Africa. 
 
Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski, who had a very strong showing in 2018, including a maiden win in Bangladesh Open, will be also gunning for the lovely Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship Trophy and the winner’s cheque of $54,000, which is accompanied by an Asian Tour exemption till the end of 2020.
 
While Madappa, Joshi and Kokocinski achieved their maiden breakthrough wins last year and full exemption onto the Asian Tour, Taehee and Carballo have won this season to signal their arrival.
 
Another strong home challenger will be Rashid Khan, who in 11 starts this season, including the Indian PGTI Tour, has had two wins, both on the PGTI, and six other Top-10s, including two on Asian Tour.
 
Ajeetesh Sandhu, who won in Chinese Taipei in 2017 and has had five other Top-3 finishes in last two and a half seasons, will also be looking for a good finish.
 
Meanwhile, among those waiting is Chikkarangappa, who has been knocking on the door for some time and is expecting it to open any week. Kawamura won his only Asian Tour title in 2013.
 
However, when the action begins, rankings, as usual, will matter less than the ability of the players to cope with the intense heat and the course, which is hosting its first Asian Tour event since 2009.
 
The Classic Golf & Country Club, which last saw an international event 10 years ago, is in top shape and a lot tougher than it was when Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat won the Asian Tour event with a world record score of 32-under-par 256.
 
With the course conditions more challenging, Khalin Joshi looked at 16-under as a likely winning score. With a full field of 156 contesting the $300,000 event that will be played at the par-72 course over 7,114 yards, it promises to be a tough test.
 
Madappa, who scored his breakthrough Asian Tour win at the Take Solutions Masters last year, said, “It will be up to each one to adapt as best as possible here. Putting together four good rounds will be testing, but that is why we play. I have played here before but not in these conditions and while the course looks in great shape, it will demand accurate play.”
 
Van Tonder said, “I’m coming here from Jakarta where we played the Indonesian Open and have to say the heat is much more than I had expected. I knew the temperatures were expected to be on the higher side, but it will definitely be a challenge coping over four days.”
 
Madappa added, “The setup we have seen in the last two days is such that you can attack the fairways and greens, but accuracy will be the key. The roughs are testing, and you need to stay on the fairway as much as possible.”
 
Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) Chief Executive Officer Uttam Singh Mundy said, “Every opportunity we can give our players adds to their chances of making progress. Sponsorships are not easy to come by in golf, and the PGTI is grateful to the Asian Tour and to the Classic Golf and Country Club for helping provide our boys with this stage.
 
B. Hariharan, Managing Director of Landbase India, which owns the golf course, said, “It is an opportunity to put not just the venue, but also the sport on centre stage. This is why we run this facility. To give our customers, in this case, the players from the Asian and PGTI tours, the best experience is our aim and we have hopefully prepared the course to do just that.”
 
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Golf: Top pros, promising juniors to take part in Classic Golf and Country Club International Championship

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Indian golf will get a further boost when the $300,000 Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship will make its debut on September 12.
 
While the  new tournament will showcase the growing popularity of the sport in the country, it will also provide another opportunity to the Indian players to showcase their wares in a very strong field including golfers from 20 countries.
 
It  is, perhaps be the first golf tournament in the country to be sponsored  and hosted by a golf club. With the originally scheduled Take Solutions event moved to early next year, the Classic Golf & Country Club (CG&CC) stepped in to fill the vacuum.
 
As a result, one of the oldest golf facilities in the National Capital Region will host two dollar-events – the other one being the $400,000 Panasonic Open – in the same season.
 
The Jack Nicklaus Signature course, where the last Asian Tour event was the 2009 SAIL Open, will witness a full field of 156 players from 24 countries. The winner's share is $54,000. Even the 72nd-placed golfer will receive $600.
 
Since 2011, Asian Tour events in India have produced at least two homegrown winners each year, barring once in 2013, when there was just one winner. But in 2013, Indians also had a runner-up in another event and three Top-5 finishers in the third event.
 
Indian golfers, who have dominated home events, will be strong favourites. Leading the pack will be two stars, Viraj Madappa and Khalin Joshi, both from Bengaluru, who broke through on the region’s premier Tour last season with a win each in Bengaluru and Delhi. The field will also include another  talented Indian, Ajeetesh Sandhu, who won his first Asian Tour event in Taiwan in 2017.
 
S Chikkarangappa, who has been a topper on the domestic pro circuit, will be looking to etch his name on the newly instituted trophy. He has won twice on the Asian Development Tour and has also represented India at the World Cup, but is still in search of his first Asian Tour win.
 
“I have come close many times, but not quite closed the deal. But now with the Classic Golf and Country International, I am hoping the home atmosphere will help me get past the line,” said Chikka.
 
Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan, who has, however, not won since 2014, will also be in the field as will be Chiragh Kumar, also a winner on the Asian Tour. A new bunch of rookie pros like Aadil Bedi will also be looking at a breakthrough win.
 
The field at Classic Golf & Country Club International Championship  will   have  players from South Africa, Australia, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan and Argentina taking part, making it a well-represented international event. 
 
The tournament also features recent winners such as Miguel Carballo of Argentina, who is fresh from his win at Indonesia Open; Taehee Lee (Korea) and Malcolm Kokocinski (Sweden).
 
The entry list includes former Asia No. 1 Jyoti Randhawa and multiple Asian Tour winner Mardan Mamat.
 
The field also includes two amateurs, Harshjeet Sethie and Kartik Sharma, who will be representing India at the prestigious Nomura Cup later; as well as Saurav Rathi who will be turning professional in this event.
 
The Classic Golf & Country Club is considered one of the finest courses in India and the South Asian region. The retreat is part of a sprawling 300-acre verdant estate, showcasing South Asia’s only 27-hole signature golf course designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
 
It has an 18-hole Signature Championship Course and a 9-hole Signature Canyon Course built at the foothills of the picturesque Aravallis. The hillocks and knolls lend themselves ideally to create enticing fairways, cunning and tricky greens and in-play water, which are enough to challenge any golfer.
 
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Golf: Steady Tvesa Malik wins her title on Hero WPGT

File photo of Tvesa Malik
File photo of Tvesa Malik
Trailing by a shot with two holes to play, Tvesa Malik held her nerves to pip overnight leader Diksha Dagar for a bogey-bogey finish to win the 13th Leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour here today.
 
It was Tvesa’s third win of the season after previous wins in the third leg at Ahmedabad’s Kensville Golf and Country Club and the eighth leg in Bengaluru’s Prestige Golfshire. 
 
She joins Ridhima as the only other three-time winner this year. Tvesa, who has been dividing her time between the Indian domestic tour and international events, has won three titles in five starts on the Hero WPG Tour.
 
Tvesa, who was not having the best of rounds till the 14th, at which point she was three-over, made no mistakes over the last four crucial holes. She birdied the par-3 16th and parred the 15th, 17th and 18th to finish at two-over 74 and one-over 217.
 
Meanwhile, Diksha, who had a disastrous start with a bogey-double bogey-bogey in her first three holes, turned in four-over 40 for the front nine. However, she managed to claw her way back into contention with birdies on 11th and 16th. She still led the field at even par with two holes to play. That is when she made the big errors to bogey the last two holes, allowing playing partner Tvesa to sneak ahead.
 
Ridhima Dilawari put back a lean run with a fine final round as she birdied three times on the front nine to turn in two-under 34. Then she bogeyed 10th, birdied 11th and again bogeyed 14th, only to recover with another birdie on 15th.  She was unable to find any more birdies on the tough three-hole final stretch. She parred the last three holes for the day’s second best card of two-under 70 and a two-over 218 which made her the clubhouse leader.
 
The final group comprised Tvesa Malik, Diksha Dagar and Gaurika Bishnoi, who had earlier put herself out of contention with a four-over 40 on the front nine.
 
As the final group played on the last fairway, Ridhima waited to see the drama unfold. She needed both Diksha and Tvesa to bogey the final hole to get into a play-off.
 
Diksha did drop the bogey to drop to two-over, but Tvesa parred the final hole to keep her nose ahead at one-over and claimed her third title.
 
For Ridhima, the result was a big boost ahead of the Hero Women’s Indian Open at the same layout.
 
Gaurika Bishnoi (75) ended fourth, three shots behind Ridhima and Diksha, who were Tied-second. Neha Tripathi (75) was fifth, while Vani Kapoor (74) was sixth. Siddhi Kapoor (69) had the day’s best card with four birdies and just one bogey on the first.
 
Sisters Gurjot Badwal (76) and Gursimar Badwal (79) tied for eighth and amateur Jahnavi Bakshi (73) and winner of 12th Leg Gauri Karhade (78) were Tied-10th.
 
Gaurika Bishnoi stayed on top of the Hero Order of Merit, while Neha Tripathi is still second and Amandeep Drall is third. Ridhima Dilawari is fourth and Gursimar Badwal fifth.
 
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ED attaches properties worth Rs. 30.34 crore in Panchkula industrial plots allocation case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Thursday it had attached 14 industrial plots worth Rs. 30.34 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in the Panchkula industrial plots allocation case.
 
In a press release, the Ed alleged that the 14 plots were fraudulently allocated to persons closely connected to then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda, who was the ex-officio Chairman of the  Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). 
 
"Since these fraudulently acquired plots are proceeds of crime, the same have been provisionally attached under PMLA.
 
"Investigations conducted by ED reveal that 14 industrial plots were available with HUDA for allotment in 2011. It has come out during the investigation that the prices fixed for the subject allotment were kept very low vis-a-vis market rate. The then prevalent collector rate was around 4-5 times the price fixed for allotment. Hon’ble High Court directions to the Haryana Government were to evolve a fair and transparent criteria for such allocations. 
 
"The criteria for allotment were altered 18 days after the last date of application was over and all the applicant data was in possession of HUDA. Marks for certain criteria were altered to favour the pre-selected applicants by increasing the discretion at the hands of the interview committee. The marks for certain criteria were reduced and for others the criteria points were given zero marks thereby effectively removing the criteria as given in EMP. The entire interview process was vitiated and compromised as no formal record of marks allocation was kept. It has been found that the plots were allocated to persons closely connected to Shri Bhupender Singh Hooda in terms of his personal capacity and also in terms of the political party he belongs to," it said.
 
Further  investigation in this case is under progress, the release added.
 
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Golf: Diksha Dagar emerges second-round leader in 13th Leg of Hero WPGT

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Diksha Dagar fired four birdies while dropping a stroke in the back nine to take the lead as overnight leader Tvesa Malik had a poor  second round in the 13th Leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour at the Gary Player layout in the DLF Golf & Country Club here on Thursday.
 
Even as Diksha holds a two-shot lead over Tvesa, the latter is another three shots ahead of Gursimar Badwal (73) and Gaurika Bishnoi (74), who are Tied-third.
 
Diksha, who flew in straight from Europe for the event, bettered her first-round 73 with a fine four-under 68 that took her total to three-under 141. Tvesa, on the other hand, fell to one-under 143 as she carded three-over 75, which had just one birdie and four bogeys. As of now only Diksha and Tvesa have carded under par totals. 
 
That put Diksha in a strong position going into the final round. Her  only win on the Hero WPG Tour has come as an amateur in the last event of the 2017 season. 
 
The current season of 2019 is her rookie season as a pro, and Diksha has already won the South African Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour.
 
Gursimar had three birdies on the front nine against one bogey, while she had three bogeys on the back nine for a total of 73, the same as the first day.
 
Gaurika had two birdies against four bogeys, three of which were on the front nine.
 
Ridhima has been having a quiet run after her win in the ninth leg, which was her third win of the season. Since then she has had a best finish of Tied-seventh, and so will be looking at a good finish here.
 
Vani Kapoor (76) and Gurjot Badwal (77) are Tied-seventh, while Siddhi Kapoor (79) and Gauri Karhade (82) are Tied-ninth.Sneha Sharan is the leading amateur and Tied-11th alongside Amandeep Drall.
 
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Golf: Rookie Karan Pratap Singh claims maiden title in dramatic finish

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In a dramatic finish, 19-year-old rookie Karan Pratap Singh sank an eagle on the last hole of the final round to claim his maiden professional title at the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour at the Golden Greens Golf Club here on Thursday.
 
Local lad Shivendra Singh Sisodia (71-67-71) finished second at his home course with a total of seven-under 209.
 
Gurugram-based Karan (71-68-68), who plays at the DLF Golf & Country Club, delivered a second consecutive four-under 68 during round three on Thursday to claim a well-deserved two-shot victory at nine-under 207 at the Rs. 8 lakh event.
 
 Interestingly, rookies have now won the last two tournaments on the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour. Last week, another rookie Yuvraj Singh Sandhu had triumphed in Karnal.
 
 Karan, who was placed second, one shot behind leader Shivendra Singh Sisodia on day two, put up a fine display of driving and iron-play on day three to register a memorable come-from-behind win.
 
Among India's leading juniors till the age of 15, Karan caught up with leader Sisodia when he sank successive birdies on the fifth and sixth. Singh added two more birdies on the ninth and 10th as a result of back-to-back 20-feet conversions to move into a two-shot lead.
 
However, it was all square once again between Karan and Shivendra as the former’s short-game seemed to go off the boil when he bogeyed the 11th and 12th. But there was a last twist when the tall and lanky Karan, who finished tied 16th at the PGTI Q School earlier this year, produced his best shot of the tournament on the 18th, a magnificent approach from 240 yards, to set up the decisive four-foot eagle putt which he went on to convert.
 
Karan, who had also posted a round of eight-under 62 and a tied seventh finish at the Bengal Open earlier this year, climbed from 25th to fifth place in the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour Order of Merit as a result of his triumph on Thursday. He won a prize purse of Rs. 1,01,720.
 
“I played solid today having made 15 regulations and 10 fairways. I couldn’t have asked for a better time to pull out my best shot of the tournament, the approach on the 18th. Even the tee shot on the 18th was a tough one but I struck it well," he said.
 
"I kept my cool through the day and really held my nerve in the finishing stages. Importantly, I put the disappointment of the two bogeys behind me pretty quickly and instead focused on the next hole," he added.
 
Sisodia, the overnight leader dropped to second place in round three after a 71 that was punctuated by two birdies and a bogey. He had a forgettable back-nine where he made a bogey on the 10th followed by eight pars and struggled to close the gap with Karan in the dying stages.
 
Greater Noida’s Arjun Sharma (70) came third at six-under-210. Chandigarh’s Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, the winner last week in Karnal, and Delhi’s Ashok Kumar finished joint fourth at four-under-212.
 
Yuvraj Sandhu’s tied fourth finish raised  his season's earnings to  Rs. 1,80,760. Digvijay Singh, the other top-60 player and local golfer in the field besides Sisodia, also took a share of 13th place.
 
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Golf: Shivendra Sisodia moves into second-round lead at Golden Greens

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Local golfer Shivendra Singh Sisodia carded five-under 67 to take the  second-round lead at six-under 138 at the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour at the Golden Greens Golf Club here on Wednesday.
 
Teenaged rookie Karan Pratap Singh, who also hails from Gurugram, produced a 68 to be placed second at five-under 139. The cut came down at four-over 148. Thirty-six professionals made the cut.
 
 The 30-year-old  Sisodia (71-67), a former winner on the Feeder Tour, playing on his home course, hit his approach shots with pinpoint precision through the day. He secured an early eagle on the 11th where he landed his approach within three feet of the pin. Sisodia then set up a five-foot birdie conversion on the par-3 12th followed by a 10-footer on the par-4 14th.
 
He continued the good work on the front-nine with a birdie chip-in from 22 yards on the first despite an erratic drive. He was also just one roll short of his second eagle of the day on the fifth where he settled for a birdie. Sisodia’s only setback came on the closing ninth where he dropped a bogey after losing his ball as a result of a poor tee shot.
 
“I did really well with my approach shots and wedges today. It’s my home course, so I knew that even after a slow start in the first round I’ll be able to make up lost ground on day two. I’ve not performed up to my expectations so far this year as I’ve not been finishing well in tournaments. I’ve been posting high scores on the last two days. That’s something that I’ve been working on. So hopefully, I can turn it around in the last round tomorrow,” Sisodia said after his round
 
Nineteen-year-old Karan Pratap Singh (71-68) made some good up and downs thanks to his excellent wedge-play to propel himself into contention, one shot behind the leader.
 
Kapurthala’s Ashbeer Saini (69) and Greater Noida’s Arjun Sharma (68) occupied joint third place at four-under-140. Feeder Tour Order of Merit leader Anil Bajrang Mane (69) of Mumbai was in tied fifth at three-under 141 along with Chandigarh’s Rohan Kathuria (68).
 
Round-one leader Kushal Singh of Gurugram slipped to tied seventh at two-under  142 after his second round of 74. Digvijay Singh (74), also playing at his home course, ended the day in tied 18th at one-over 145. 
 
Gurugram’s Md Ezzaz fired a hole-in-one on the eighth during his round of 73. However, he totaled seven-over 151 to miss the cut by three shots.
 
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Golf: Tvesa fires four-under 68 to lead on the opening day of 13th Leg of Hero WPGT

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Title contender Tvesa Malik fired four-under 68 to take a four-shot lead over Gaurika Bishnoi and Gurjot Badwalas she emerged the opening round leader in the 13th leg of the Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour here on Wednesday.
 
Playing at Gary Player’s Black Knight course at the DLF Golf and Country Club, Tvesa started the day with 10 pars in a row, before coming up with three successive birdies. She dropped a shot on Par-5 15th, but quickly regrouped herself to close birdie-birdie for a 68.
 
Gaurika started with four steady pars, before she dropped a double bogey on Par-3 fifth and another bogey on sixth. Birdies on ninth and 10th, followed by six pars and another birdie on 17th, and  she ended at 72.
 
Gurjot Badwal, younger sister of Gursimar Badwal, had three birdies, one on front nine and two on back nine, but dropped three bogeys on back nine to end up with par 72.
 
It was a perfect start for Tvesa’s preparations for next month’s marquee event, the Hero Women’s Indian Open on the Ladies European Tour at the same course. Last year Tvesa finished Tied-13th alongside Gaurika Bishnoi, who is lying second, but overall is leading the Hero WPGT Order of Merit.
 
Diksha Dagar and Vani Kapoor, along with last week’s winner Gauri Karhade, were among the big group of five golfers at Tied-fourth with a round of 73 each. The others in the group were Neha Tripathi and Gursimar Badwal.
 
Diksha had two birdies against one bogey, while Vani had three birdies against four bogeys. Three of her bogeys came in the last six holes.
 
Neha Tripathi started birdie-birdie and then had a roller-coaster of a round with a total of five birdies against two double bogeys and two bogeys.
 
Amateur Khushi Hooda, Siddhi Kapoor and the only three-time winner this season Ridhima Dilawari, are Tied-ninth at 76 each.
 
This is the last event before the Hero Women’s Indian Open scheduled for the first week of October.
 
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Golf: Kushal Singh takes first round lead at Golden Greens

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Gurugram’s Kushal Singh fired four-under 68 to emerge the first-round leader at the Tata Steel PGTI Feeder Tour 2019 presented by Golden Greens Golf Club in Gurugram on Tuesday.
 
The quartet comprising Chandigarh duo Zubin Nijhawan and Amrit Lal and Delhi-based players Gulfam Pappan and Sahil Kulkarni were in joint second with scores of two-under 70.
 
Twenty-four-year-old Kushal Singh, who already has two top-10s in the current Feeder Tour season and occupies fourth place on the money list, had a quiet start as he made two birdies and two bogeys over his first six holes (10th to 15th). Kushal then hit his straps with a good par save on the 17th where he recovered despite a poor tee shot followed by a birdie on the 18th.
 
On the front-nine, Singh,  having found his rhythm, picked up three more birdies on the third, fifth and ninth to move into the sole lead on day one of the Feeder Tour season’s fourth event. Kushal capitalized on all the four par-5 holes with birdies on each one of them.
 
 Kushal, fresh from his runner-up finish at last week’s event in Karnal, said, “I posted my career-best finish in Karnal last week so I’m carrying forward the momentum from that performance. I made a lot of good up and downs today and made the par-5s count. I didn’t have a great start today but the birdie on the 18th changed things as it gave me the confidence for the front-nine.”
 
Digvijay Singh and Shivendra Singh Sisodia, both playing at their home course, ended round one with scores of 71 to be tied sixth. 
 
Feeder Tour Order of Merit leader Anil Bajrang Mane of Mumbai fired a 72 to be placed tied 11th.
 

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Golf: Diksha, Vani to take part in domestic Tour for 13th leg ahead of Hero Women’s Indian Open

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Diksha Dagar, the lone Indian to have won on the Ladies European Tour (LET) this year, and Vani Kapoor will get their second appearance chance on the domestic Hero Women’s Pro Golf Tour in 2019. All the top Indian stars hope to get a feel of the DLF Golf and Country Club’s layout this week.
 
Diksha, who won the Women’s South African Open and then played as many events as possible on the LET, including two Majors, for which she qualified as a winner, has not played this season on the Hero WPGT. She played the opening leg of the Tour and finished third before proceeding to play outside India.
 
Also returning for the event is Vani Kapoor, who despite finishing second, picked the winner’s cheque in the 11th Leg at the Hyderabad Golf Club, as amateur Sneha Singh emerged winner.
 
Other hopefuls this week will include three-time winner on the Hero WPG Tour Ridhima Dilawari, who was T-20 last year at HWIO 2018 and two-time domestic winners Gaurika Bishnoi and Tvesa Malik, who were also the only Indians in Top-15 at HWIO last year.
 
Other Tour winners who will be seen in action are Amandeep Drall, Neha Tripathi, Gursimar Badwal and Gauri Karhade, the latest teen to win a title on the home Tour.
 
The field for this week’s 13th leg also includes four amateurs -- Asmitha Sathish, Khushi Hooda, Sneha Sharan and Jahanvi Bakshi.
 
This will be their final chance to get a look at the Gary Player’s Black Knight course before the Hero Women’s Indian Open in the first week of October.
 
The $ 500,000 will mark its 10th anniversary on the LET and the 13th edition overall when it is held from October 3 to 6.
 
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Heavy rains lash Delhi-NCR, traffic snarls at many places

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Heavy rains lashed Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Tuesday, leading to massive traffic snarls at various places.
 
While some parts of the capital city received heavy rainfall, others only witnessed a drizzle. In a few areas trees were uprooted which led to traffic.
 
In South Delhi, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic from Maharani Bagh towards Ashram after a tree was uprooted. 
 
Traffic was affected from Dhaula Kuan to AIIMS due to breakdown of a vehicle. There was also a jam in Model Town due to waterlogging. Near the Indraprastha flyover, vehicles' movement was affected because of an overflowing sewer. 
 
Waterlogging made it difficult for people to step out of their homes in Dwarka and Gurugram.
 
Forecaster Skymet Weather's Vice President Mahesh Palawat told IANS on Tuesday that the monsoon turf has moved to North India and the weather will continue to remain the same till Wednesday,following which it will move to South India.
 
"The rains will be back in the national capital from August 12 onwards," he added.
 
Meanwhile, commuters and office goers were swift enough to take to social media and report about traffic jams. 
 
"Rain in Delhi and the consequences of a terrible traffic jam on Delhi-Meerut highway (NH-24)," a Twitter user said, along with an image of a jam for around 100 metres.
 
The Delhi Traffic Police (DTP) were also constantly posting updates on their Twitter handle. 
 
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10-month-old infant dies after falling into open manhole

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An open manhole in Gurugram's sector 31 area claimed the life of a 10-month-old infant, police said on Tuesday.
 
The infant was playing with his 15-year-old brother on the pavement of a road.
 
The deceased's grandfather Tek Chand said that he runs a stall on the road where the infant was crawling near the uncovered manhole and fell inside.
 
Local residents especially street vendors are agitated over the negligence of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram which did not cover the manhole on the deep sewer line.
 
MCG officials are tightlipped following the incident.
 
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