Gaganjeet Bhullar carried on his fine form, carding a solid four-under 68 that placed him Tied-seventh after the first round of the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
Bhullar holed no less than seven birdies, but on three occasions he gave away a bogey soon after one of the gains at the Saujana Golf and Country Club. He was the best placed Indian as SSP Chawrasia, three-over after six holes, turned the disastrous start into a fine round with six birdies, five of them on the second nine to finish at three-under 69 and Tied-15th place.
Young Viraj Madappa (70) at Tied-26th, defending champion Shubhankar Sharma (71) at T-41st, Ajeetesh Sandhu (72) at T-63, Khalin Joshi and Arjun Atwal (73 each) at T-82, S Chikkarangappa (75) at T-125th, Rahil Gangjee (76) at T-137th and Shiv Kapur (77) at T-141st are the other Indians in the field.
Australia’s Marcus Fraser and Spain’s Nacho Elvira took a share of the first round lead by returning with matching seven-under-par 65s. Fraser, who won the inaugural Maybank Championship in 2016, surprised even himself with his position on the leaderboard after considering himself as a ‘part-time golfer’ nowadays.
Bhullar said, “I made a lot of unforced errors today I started the round with a bogey and made a couple of other bogeys where I could have easily made pars. But I finished the round with a nice birdie on the last hole and that was pleasing. Apart from those errors, it was a decent round of golf.”
He added, “Asia’s home for me and I get inspired each time I come back and play in this part of the world. I’ve been quite consistent this season and giving myself opportunities over the weekend. The goal is to keep on working hard and improving every year.”
Philippines’ Angelo Que opened his campaign at the USD 3 million event in a blistering pace, getting to nine-under after 11 holes. Two double-bogeys on 15 and 16 knocked him off the perch but he finished at six-under 66, with Austria’s Matthias Schwab and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit.
South Africa’s Ernie Els, who will captain the International team for this year’s Presidents Cup, signed for a 68 to share seventh place together with seven other players that include Bhullar, Australia’s Zach Murray, Thailand’s Poom Saksansin and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung.