Golfer Lahiri shoots 66 to start Macao Open title defence

Macao, Oct 15 (IANS) Leading Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri shot five-under 66 to be joint fourth, while Abhijit Chadda, Chiragh Kumar and Rahil Gangjee shared the eighth spot after scoring matching 67s in the opening round of the $1 million Venetian Macao Open here on Thursday.

Defending champion Lahiri, the current Asian Tour leader, produced a flawless performance that witnessed birdies on the first, second, fifth, 13th and 18th holes for a 66 — two shots behind leader, 23-year-old Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand.

Young South Korean Jeunghun Wang and Bangladeshi Siddikur Rahman shot 65s to be tied second at the Macau Golf and Country Club.

For 28-year-old Lahiri, it was a strong comeback after a disappointing debut at the Presidents Cup where he failed to win any of the three ties he participated for the International Team, who lost to the United States by one point.

“It’s back to the usual I guess. I think it was a solid round of golf. I misread a few. Hopefully I can make those six or eight footers through the rest of the week,” the Bengalurean said in an Asian Tour release.

“Having played here a few years, I kind of got my strategies down. I’ve taken out as much stress out of my shots as possible. It’s a bit like Delhi Golf Club. This course gets a bit tight when it gets windy. You have to really know where to hit it. Having played here a few times, you get more comfortable. And obviously when you win you come back to the course and you feel great.”

Abhijit, Chiragh and Gangjee also got off to good starts, getting matching 67s. Gaganjeet Bhullar, Kapil Kumar and former Asian Tour champion Jyoti Randhawa shared the 25th spot on 69.

S.S.P. Chawrasia, third in the Asian Tour Order of Merit list, and Rashid Khan were tied 37th on 70, while Himmat Rai was joint 73rd with an one-over 72.

S. Chikka, Shiv Kapur and former Asian Tour champion Arjun Atwal shared the 90th position after scoring 73 each.

Manav Jaini (74) was joint 104th, while Khalin Joshi and Shubhankar Sharma finished tied 14th on 75. Angad Cheema scored a 76 to be joint 124th.

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