Teenaged golfer Gaurika Bishnoi greeted playing partner Vani Kapoor on her return with a hat-trick of birdies on the first three holes of the eighth leg of the Hero WPGT as she took a one-shot lead on the first day at the Clover Greens here on Wednesday.
Gaurika, who hails from Gurugram, shot one-under on either side of the turn for a two-under 69 that put her one clear of Vani (70).
Three players were tied at 71 behind the top two. The bunch included last week's winner Tvesa Malik, Amandeep Drall and amateur Ankita Kedlaya, whose card included a superb eagle on the par-5 third hole.
Gaurika, who turned pro in the second half of the season last year and finished second and fourth in her only two outings, has been extremely consistent this season.
With one win, two seconds and two third places, in the seven starts this season, she overtook the erstwhile Hero Order of Merit leader Amandeep last week in Bengaluru. Gaurika was second behind Tvesa Malik.
On Wednesday, Gaurika had three birdies to start the day in the last group alongside Vani and Smriti Mehra (75). Gaurika also birdied seventh, eighth, tenth and 16th for a total of seven birdies. But she bogeyed the sixth, ninth and 18th and double bogeyed the par-4 sixth.
Vani, who played in Thailand last week and finished T-54, had four birdies against three bogeys. Her back nine had one birdie and no bogeys for a 70.
Tvesa had three birdies and three bogeys in her 71, while amateur Ankita had two birdies and an eagle and four bogeys, including two on the last two, but for which she would have tied for the lead with Gaurika.
Amandeep, who was also with Vani in Thailand last week and ended T-59, had 16 pars in a row for the first 16 holes, before she finished with a bogey-birdie for a 71.
Neha Tripathi (72) was sixth, while Anisha Paduoke, Saaniya Sharma and Smriti were tied-seventh at 75. Amateurs Rhea Saravanan and Pranavi Urs rounded of the top-10 at 76.
Sharmila Nicollet (78) was T-12 with Gursimar Badwal, Siddhi Kapoor, Mehar Atwal and amateur Shweta Mansingh.
Gaurika, Vani and Ankita will go out in the final group on the second day, while Neha Tripathi, Tvesa Malik and Amandeep Drall are in the second from last group.
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