Indian Open: Chawrasia, Sanjay best Indians on Day 1

The two-time European Tour winner, Chawrasia, who was defeated in a play-off last year, made a valiant effort to make early claim to the crown as a double bogey was the only blemish in an otherwise brilliant round that included seven birdies at the tricky Delhi Golf Club course.

S.S.P Chawrasia lines up a putt during the first round of Indian Open.   -  Getty Images

The much-believed ‘Beginner’s Luck’ worked for America’s Daniel Im as he marked his debut with a seven-under 65 on the opening day of the $1.66m Hero Indian Open at the Delhi Golf Club course on Thursday.

Three players stayed a stroke behind the leader while the best among the home challengers came from Sanjay Kumar and S. S. P. Chawrasia, who were among the five players at 67. Defending champion Anirban Lahiri birdied the last four holes for an eventful 68.

Bogey-free round

In conditions that hardly tested the hitting skills of those on the course, Im returned a bogey-free round. Winner of the 2015 Swiss Challenge title, the 30-year-old managed a couple of good up-and-down par putts to keep a clean card.

The words of the clubhouse leader matched the simplicity reflected in his percentage play when he said, “I’ve heard about this golf course so many times prior to coming here. I came in with a bit of respect. I showed some respect and got some respect back.”

Sanjay Kumar, among the top-10 finishers in the 2008 edition here, putted impressively to card a five-under.

Hat-trick of birdies

Chawrasia had hat-tricks of birdies, on either sides of his lone blemish – a double bogey – on the 16th hole. “Now it’s important to build on that for the next three days. Today my putting was good and I made some good recoveries,” said Chawrasia.

On a day when three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington shot a 71 and Arjun Atwal carded a 70 while Shiv Kapur and Jeev Milkha Singh returned par rounds, Lahiri’s brilliant home-run lifted his fortunes before being joined by young Honey Baisoya at 68.

Describing it as “quite and up-and-down day,” Lahiri admitted that he was very inconsistent with his iron play to start with, that saw him shoot eight birdies against four bogeys.

Lahiri, who started from the 10th hole, said, “Walking down after the fourth hole, I told my caddie I haven’t played badly but was five or six behind and the guys up there had made a fast start. The key was to stay in touch somehow. I think it was on the walk from the fifth green to the sixth (tee) that I tried to clear my head and then it worked well.”

The scores (Indians unless stated):

Daniel IM (USA) 65, Prom Meesawat (Tha), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Nacho Elvira (Esp) 66 each; Sanjay Kumar, Jeunghun Wang (Kor), S. S. P. Chawrasia, Terry Pilkadaris (Aus), Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 67 each.

Other Indians with scores of 72 or under: Honey Baisoya, Anirban Lahiri 68 each; Rahil Gangjee, Vikrant Chopra, Rashid Khan 69 each; Shankar Das, Arjun Atwal, M. Dharma 70 each; Om Prakash Chouhan, Shubhankar Sharma, Abhinav Lohan, Arjun Prasad (A), Shamim Khan 71 each; Khalin Joshi, Shiv Kapur, Jeev Milkha Singh, Udayan Mane and Ashok Kumar 72 each.