SSP Chawrasia made a sedate start with two birdies and two bogeys in his even par 72 on the first day of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai on Thursday. Chawrasia was Tied-48th in the 78-man field and there is no cut this week in the USD 9.75 million event.
Chawrasia, whose form has been off-and-on, found less than 50 per cent fairways and less than 50 per cent greens in regulation. But his putting saved the day as he had as many as 10 one putts and did not three-putt even once.
“I did not have a great day hitting but my putting saved the day,” said Chawrasia, who has six Asian Tour titles, four of which are co-sanctioned with European Tour. Making his first start in the 2017-18 PGA TOUR season, Brooks Koepka shot an eight-under 64 to take a one-shot first-round lead at Sheshan International Golf Club. His effort was one shot shy of the tournament’s lowest opening
round by Branden Grace in 2015.
Starting from the 10th tee, Koepka birdied 14, 16 and 17 before making an eagle on the par five 18th hole to turn in 31. He shot four more birdies against a lone bogey coming home to grab his first solo first-round lead in his PGA TOUR career.
Malaysia’s Gavin Green and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat fired matching seven-under 65s to stay one shot behind the leader. The Asian duo shared the clubhouse lead until Koepka stormed home with two birdies in his closing three holes to take the opening day honours.
Starting from the 10th tee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat sank nine birdies in a 10-hole stretch, including seven consecutive birdies from the 16th hole to fourth hole to post an opening 65 for T2. His card included one other birdie and three bogeys.
The 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Kiradech’s 65 is his lowest round on the PGA TOUR, bettering his previous best of 68 in the 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions. Defending champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan shot 74 to end the day in tied-67th place.