Gaganjeet Bhullar played a flawless round of four-under 68 with two birdies on either side of the turn to make a solid start in the Volvo China Open on Thursday.
Bhullar, winner of eight Asian Tour titles, but still looking for his first success on the European Tour, is now lying Tied-8th and was the best of the eight Indians in this field.
Bhullar was four shots behind the leader, local talent Daxing Jin who had a flawless eight-under-par 64 to lead by one shot.
The 25-year-old Jin, who is making his fifth appearance in his National Open this week, is thrilled to return with a bogey-free round highlighted by six birdies and an eagle at the Beijing Topwin Golf and Country Club.
Shubhankar Sharma, who lies second on the Race to Dubai rankings and heads the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity rankings, made a fine recovery from a hat-trick of bogeys between second and fourth after a birdie start.
Sharma then fought back superbly with five birdies over the next 14 holes to finish at 3-under 69 and in Tied-18th place.
Also T-18th was Arjun Atwal, while Khalin Joshi (71) was Tied-48th and Ajeetesh Sandhu (72) was Tied-74th. Shiv Kapur (73) at Tied-94th, SSP Chawrasia (75) at Tied-120th and Jeev Milkha Singh (77) at Tied-140th will need a solid second round to make the cut.
Bhullar said, “It was a steady round for me. I hit about 12 fairways and made 16 greens-in-regulation. I hit the ball good all day and gave myself a lot of looks, also did not make any major errors. The greens today are probably the best I’ve played on since I started playing this event a couple of years back.
“My game is coming back in shape after last year’s victory in Macao. The goal is to just keep repeating what I did today and hopefully this year something will click. I hope to hole a few more putts the next few days and continue to keep it simple,” he said.
Japanese hotshot Hideto Tanihara stole the limelight by driving home a new Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum, thanks to an ace on the par-three 16th hole.
Matt Wallace of England, who claimed his breakthrough win at the Hero Indian Open in India last month, carded a solid 65 to share second place with Nino Bertasio of Italy while in-form Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe stayed two shots off the pace in tied-fourth alongside Alexander Bjork of Sweden.
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