November 2, 2017 9:10:57 pm
Ajeetesh Sandhu fired a sizzling eight-under 64, his best card of the year, to grab the sole lead on the opening day of the seventh Panasonic Open India golf tournament.
Sandhu, who has been in sensational form in the last three months with a T-3 at Take Solutions in Bengaluru, followed by a win in Taiwan and a win on the Japan Challenge Tour, blasted seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey on day 1.
Shiv Kapur, who has been longing to win a title at the DGC, smiled and promised to ‘play calmly’ and not get too anxious, as he finished the day with three birdies in a row to move to sole second at seven-under 65.
The scoreboard had a very heavy Indian look as nine Indians made it to the Top-13 after the opening day at the Delhi Golf club.
One shot behind Kapur, were Shamim Khan, who has 14 wins in his career overall, and young Aman Raj, who after turning pro last year, has already registered two runner-up finishes. They carded six-under 66 apiece.
SSP Chawrasia, who has won three different Asian Tour events here – the 2008 Emaar-MGF, the 2014 Panasonic Open India and the 2015 Hero Indian Open at the DGC, was Tied-5th along with veteran of 18 Asian Tour titles, Thaworn Wiratchant, who also won the 2005 Hero Indian Open here at the challenging DGC. They were both at five-under.
Chiragh Kumar, who clinched the 2015 Panasonic Open and finished runner-up at 2011 Hero Indian Open, carded four-under 68 that ended with an eagle and a double bogey eighth and ninth as he started the day from tenth.
Tied with Chiragh at seventh were Divyanshu Bajaj, Amardip Malik, Akshay Sharma, Thai Natipong Srithong, England’s Steve Lewton, and veteran Scott Barr of Australia.
It was a great day for scoring as 40 players were under par, but defending champion Mukesh Kumar (72) was not one of them.
Other notable scores came from Shubhankar Sharma and Honey Baisoya, 69 each in T-14, Khalin Joshi and Gaganjeet Bhullar, 70 each in Tied-23rd.
Young Rashid Khan joined veterans Gaurav Ghei and Jyoti Randhawa at 71 in Tied-31st place. Old guards Daniel Chopra (75) and Arjun Atwal (81) trailed way behind.
Sandhu, who was joined by his parents after arriving here last night from Chandigarh, said, “I feel really good to be able to shoot such a low score especially on a challenging golf course like this. I played really well right from the start. That eagle on 14 was a nice one.”
Talking of his sole bogey, Sandhu said, “I made the only bogey on the third hole. It was a tough tee shot, which went into the rough and I didn’t have a shot from there. So I had to lay out on the green where I hit it to about 15 feet from where I missed the putt.
“It’s going to be more of the same for tomorrow. I’m playing well and I’ll take every shot as it comes. It’s always important for me to play well at home as I’ve a lot of supporters this week and it’ll be nice to reward them with something special.”
Kapur, who has already scooped his second Asian Tour win this year at the Yeangder Heritage, has been saying that he would love to win once more this season for his new-born daughter Veda.
“Despite this nice score, I know it just the first day and there is lot of golf to be played. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to going back home and playing with my daughter Veda in the evening. It is so relaxing and wonderful,” he said.
Talking about his round, Kapur said, “It was a good start. I chipped-in for birdie on the second then got a birdie on the fifth. The up and down on the eighth gave me a lot of momentum, taking me to four-under for the day.
“I then recovered really well for par on the 14th after finding the bushes with my second shot. Finally, the birdies on the last three holes converted a good day into a great one.
“Every time I’ve been in contention at the DGC, I’ve wanted it too bad and tried a bit too hard. But today I executed the reverse psychology strategy well. Hopefully, I can continue doing the same till the weekend,” he added.
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