New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Little known golfer Daniel Im grabbed the sole lead with a flawless seven-under 65, even as Indians made their presence felt strongly on the opening day of the Hero Indian Open here on Thursday.
One shot behind the 30-year-old American Im, were Thai Prom Meesawat and two Spaniards, Jorge Campillo and Nacho Elvira at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC).
The best Indian was S.S.P. Chawrasia, who overcame a double bogey on 16th, after starting from the tenth tee. Chawrasia, a four-time runner-up in the National Open, had seven birdies and a double bogey and as he was tied fifth alongside fellow Indian Sanjay Kumar and three others, Wang Jeunghun of South Korea, Terry Pilkadaris of Australia and Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, who had an eagle and a hole-in-one in his 67.
While Chawrasia and Sanjay were the best Indians, the best finish of the day came from the defending champion Anirban Lahiri, who produced a late surge with four birdies in a row on last four holes to surge from even par to 68. He was however, three behind the little-known Daniel at the $1.66 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Chawrasia said: “It was a good start to the tournament. Now, it’s important to build on that for the next three days. Today my putting was good and I made some good recoveries. I also had a chip-in on the second hole from just over the green from 15-18 feet.
“My driving overall was decent except on the 16th when I pulled to the left and went into the bushes. I tried to chip out but couldn’t make the up and down from just 10-12 feet.”
Lahiri made two birdies and two bogeys during an average front nine before back-to-back birdies around the turn seemed to ignite his title defence. But he gave those two shots back on the third and fourth holes. While walking from the fifth green to sixth tee, Lahiri focused on the things he and his coach Vijay Divecha had worked on during the last few days. That sparked him to make four birdies in a row and in his own words, he said, “I dodged the bullet.”
Im’s 65 came after a flawless performance and it gave the Qualifying School graduate from the US a one-shot lead.
Im said, “There were a couple of times where I almost walked away with a bogey but I made the up-and-down. I’ve heard about this golf course so many times prior to this trip, so I came in with a bit of respect. I showed some respect and got some respect back.”
Padraig Harrington, the three-time Major winner, shot 71 and said that he felt he deserved a better score.
Jeev Milkha Singh needed a birdie on the last to stay afloat at even par and Shiv Kapur landed an eagle to reach a similar par card.