The closing birdie at the 18th may have been the only time I felt like smiling during the first round of the Hero Indian Open, though I try not to let the scores affect my demeanour. Yet when you come in and shoot 74 after having missed the cut the previous year, it is indeed disappointing. Especially when you have had the chance to win the same tournament for two years in a row before that. The DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course is never an easy one and it has challengers at every corner. Last year I felt I had let go of many chances in the first two rounds and crashed out.
This time around, I messed up the front nine and never recovered. In fact, I bogeyed third and fourth and then added more on ninth and tenth. So I was four-over after 10. In a sense, I got back two shots with birdies on 11th and 14th. I have to see that as a silver lining and hopefully turn in a solid under par round to make up and then get into the weekend. I know I can do it and I have done it in the past. As for the others, it was good to see young Shubhankar Sharma 69 and place himself strongly in the Top-10. He had the best score among all Indian players and I am sure he will keep going and fly the Indian flag high.
Stephen Gallacher, who I have seen play a lot at the Dubai Classic, is getting back into form. He was not having a great season, but five-under on this course should put him back on track and he was also Top-10 last year so he will be happy.
The Indian players, barring Shubhankar, did not have a great day, but Julian Suri gave it an Indian touch.
Suri’s father moved from India to US, where his son started playing golf and has done a great job. Suri also shot five-under as he came back after a long lay-off. Don’t be surprised to see him on the front page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
From our Indian pack, the players having decent rounds included Sharma (at Tied-7th) and then it was Rahil Gangjee (70) at Tied-16th, while OP Chouhan (71) was Tied-28th. Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rashid Khan shot 72 each to be Tied-46th while Shiv Kapur, like me shot 74.
Anirban (Lahiri) went to 77 and must have been disappointed, because he loves this event so much. But he is no different from all of us other Indian players, because this event means so much to us.
(SSP Chawrasia won The Indian Open in 2016 and 2017).