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Manuel Elvira posts a record 63 to be on top in round one in Challenge Tour

The Indian duo of M Dharma and Aman Raj were among the nine players bunched in tied third at 67.

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Bengaluru: Spaniard Manuel Elvira made it a memorable first trip to India with a nine-under 63 in the opening round of the Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge 2023 that gave him the lead at the US$300,000 event co-sanctioned by the Challenge Tour and PGTI here on Thursday.

Elvira’s 63 featuring 10 birdies and a bogey happens to be the lowest round in a professional event at the KGA. The 26-year-old Manuel from Santander in Spain was one shot ahead of Welshman Oliver Farr who was placed second after an error-free 64.

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The Indian duo of M Dharma and Aman Raj were among the nine players bunched in tied third at 67.

Manuel Elvira continued his impressive start to the season, which has seen him climb into the top 20 on the Road to Mallorca Rankings.

Elvira’s 63 was one short of the course record of 10-under 62 set by Khalin Joshi in an amateur event in 2012.

M Dharma, playing at his home course, knocked in seven birdies and two bogeys during his 67.

Dharma, a two-time winner on the PGTI, said, “I had 16 greens in regulation today which set up the day for me. I definitely feel I have the home course advantage as I know what to do when I miss the fairway or the green. The two three-putts today was the only dampener. I’ve been starting well at events but not finishing well. That’s something I’ll look to fix.”

Aman Raj, fresh from a win on the PGTI earlier this month and currently second on the PGTI’s

money list, endured a tough start after a bogey on the first hole as he came back strongly with six birdies thereafter.

Mari Muthu, Aryan Roopa Anand, Sunhit Bishnoi, Angad Cheema, Aadil Bedi and Sudhir Sharma were the six Indians in tied 12th place with scores of 68.

Among the prominent Indian names, Udayan Mane (70) was tied 43rd while Khalin Joshi (71) was tied 66th.

India’s Mohammad Sanju produced a hole-in-one on the fourth during his round of 72 that placed him tied 86th.

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