Panasonic Open: Ajeetesh Sandhu steals the show

Ajeetesh Sandhu stole the day’s honours at the Panasonic Open with an eight-under-par card of 64. He was followed by Shiv Kapur, a stroke behind with a superb 65. Among the top 13, Indians occupied nine places.

Ajeetesh Sandhu carded seven birdies and an eagle but also suffered a bogey on the third hole. (File photo)   -  AFP

On a day when 40 players scored under-par, defending champion Mukesh Kumar was afflicted with the bug too. With a score of 72, he finished 41st in the first round of the Panasonic Open which teed off at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday.

Ajeetesh Sandhu stole the day’s honours with an eight-under-par card of 64. He was followed by Shiv Kapur, a stroke behind with a superb 65. Among the top 13, Indians occupied nine places. Tied at the third slot with a card of 66 were Aman Raj and Shamim Khan.

Sandhu carded seven birdies and an eagle but also suffered a bogey on the third hole. “I feel really good to be able to shoot such a low score especially on a challenging golf course like this, which can be really tough. I played really well right from the start. That eagle on 14 was a nice one,” he reflected.

On the bogey, Sandhu added, “It was on the third hole. It was a tough tee shot, which went into the rough and I didn’t have a shot from there. So I had to lay out on the green where I hit it to about 15 feet, I missed the putt. It’s going to be more of the same for tomorrow. I’m playing well and I’ll take every shot as it comes.”

Kapur made an impression on his home course sinking a total of seven birdies, including three in a row, beginning the 16th. “What worked for me today was that I made some crucial saves at some key moments. My ups and downs were pretty good. Finally, the birdies on the last three holes converted a good day into a great one,” Kapur said.

S. S. P. Chawrasia, who has won three different Asian Tour events here, was tied fifth with Thawom Wiratchant, winner of 18 Asian Tour titles. “It is always great to play at the DGC. I love this course as my results show. However, I am back playing here after a fairly long time, so it was nice to start with a good solid round.”

Leading scores after 18 holes (Indians, unless mentioned)

64: Ajeetesh Sandhu; 65: Shiv Kapur; 66: Shamim Khan, Aman Raj; 67: Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha), S. S. P. Chawrasia; 68: Chiragh Kumar, Scott Barr(Aus), Steve Lewton(Eng),  Amardip Malik,  Akshay Sharma, Natipong Srithong (Tha), Divyanshu Bajaj.