Hero Indian Open: Shubhankar tops among Indians at T-7

Shubhankar Sharma was five-under through 14 holes and looked set for a share of the lead with Stephen Gallacher, who finished half an hour earlier.

Shubhankar Sharma ran into back-to-back bogeys and finished with 69, which he said was “still a decent start” on the course.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

For most Indian professionals, there was very little to feel cheerful about on the opening round of Hero Indian Open on Thursday.

In contrast, making the most of the conditions conducive for low scores at the DLF Golf and Country Club here, a large number of overseas professionals were hopeful of making the ‘cut.’

The first round of the $1.75 million event saw Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher stay atop the leaderboard until USA’s Julian Suri caught up with him late in the day at five-under 67.

Among the Indians, only Shubhankar Sharma (69), Rahil Gangjee (70) and Om Prakash Chauhan (71) managed sub-par cards. Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rashid Khan ended with par rounds.

With 75 players shooting 73 or under, a vast majority of Indians are staring at the possibility of missing out on the weekend action. At 74, two-time champion S. S. P. Chawrasia and Shiv Kapur were tied 76th while Anirban Lahiri (77) was sharing the 107th spot.

To have chance of making the money-list this weekend, the trio needs to return sub-70 cards on Friday.

Considering that only 45 professionals broke par on the opening day, the efforts of Gallacher and Suri were even more praiseworthy.

Shubhankar, too, was temporarily in the lead at five-under with four holes to go. Starting from the 10th, he birdied the par-3 12th and the 624-yard par-5 18th to take the turn at two-under.

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He started the home-nine with a birdie and then fired an ‘eagle’ on the 558-yard par-5 fourth and jumped into the lead. However, his joy was short-lived. With four holes to play, Shubhankar bogeyed the next two par-4 holes and slipped to three-under before a par-par finish.

“Three-under par is a good score to start out the tournament especially on this golf course. You need to have a good start to keep the momentum going the next few days, so I am pretty happy with how I did,” said Shubhankar.

Reflecting on his mistakes, he said, “I missed a couple of key putts on my front-nine. Made silly mistakes on six and seven.”

About the ‘eagle’, Shubhankar said of his approach-shot, “I ended up with a decent lie. I was lucky with where it ended up and hit I hit close enough to make an eagle.”

Leading scores:

67 - Stephen Gallacher (Sco), Julian Suri (USA); 68 - Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Pablo Larrazabal (Esp), Robert Karlsson (Swe) and Prom Meesawat (Tha).

Indians with scores of par and under: 69 - Shubhankar Sharma; 70 - Rahil Gangjee; 71 - Om Prakash Chauhan; 72 - Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rashid Khan.