Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shubhankar Sharma frittered away good starts to end with a modest one-under 71 each in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic, here Thursday.
Tenth tee starters Bhullar and Sharma fell from being three-under and two-under at one stage. They finished the day at Tied-58th while SSP Chawrasia bounced back from being three-over to even par, giving himself a chance of make the cut.
India’s fourth player, amateur Rayhan Thomas, missed a whole bunch of putts and then a careless tap for a par turned into a bogey. He had a double on sixth and his only birdie was on 18th and he ended two-over.
Matthew Fitzpatrick was leading with a seven-under 65 and trailing him were eight golfers at 6-under 66, while another nine players, including defending champion, Li Haotong, are 5-under 67 as 89 players shot par or under on a low scoring day.
Two of Asian Tour’s biggest stars, Thongchai Jaidee and Scott Hend, were among the six players who were one shot behind the leader Fitzpatrick.
For most part of the day, the leaders stood at 6-under 66 till Fitzpatrick blazed through the back nine with six birdies, four of them on last four holes for a 65.
Sharing the second place with Thongchai and Hend, were Bryson DeChambeau, the highest ranked player in the field this week, the 2017 Masters champion, Sergio Garcia, Matthieu Pavon, Kalle Samooja and Roman Langasque, who had two holes to play.
Sharma, the reigning Asia No. 1, Bhullar brought home cards of one-under 71 each after being way better earlier in the day.
Bhullar was three-under with three birdies in a row after starting from 10th, while Sharma was two-under through 14 before dropping shots on sixth and eighth, his 15th and 17th holes though a birdie on 18th eased the pain.
Sharma said, “I did not hit too well and missed too much. But there is one more day to go.”
In contrast Chawrasia, who was slipping down at three-over through 12 holes that had two birdies, a bogey and two doubles, fought back with three birdies in last five holes to finish even par.
Thongchai, playing his 19th Desert Classic in a row, had his best-ever start at the event with six-under 66. It could have been even better but for the double bogey on the closing 18th hole at the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.
Thongchai, who hits 50 in November 2019, and has won 13 times on Asian Tour and eight times on the European Tour wins, chose to shoot his best-ever in the Dubai Classic on the same day as the Asian Tour announcing the fourth staging of his Thongchai Foundation 2019 event on Asian Development Tour.
Thongchai admitted, I didn’t play well last year. Putting sucked, but this week I think I am more confident. My putting is getting better.
Hend equaled his best of 66, which he shot in the second round last year. Hend birdied first and third but gave the gains back with bogeys on fifth and sixth. Thereafter he could make no mistake. He birdied seventh and was on fire on back with five more birdies.