Panasonic Open: Perera leads by one, Chiragh joint second

On the opening round of the $400,000 Panasonic Open at the tree-lined Delhi Golf Club course, the leading spots on the leader-board were occupied by those who preferred accuracy ahead of distance on Thursday.

The leader Mithun Perera of Srilanka on way to a score of (-6) Six under on the first day of the Panasonic Golf.   -  Sandeep Saxena

The tree-lined Delhi Golf Club course is known to punish those who miss the fairways. On the upside, accuracy stands rewarded both off the tee and from the fairways. And on the opening round of the $400,000 Panasonic Open, the leading spots on the leader-board were occupied by those who preferred accuracy ahead of distance on Thursday.

Sri Lanka’s Mithun Perera fired four birdies on the last five holes to go with his two birdies at the start to return six-under 66 for the day’s honours. Half an hour before Perera came in, Chiragh Kumar signed off with a birdie-birdie finish to regain the ‘touch’ that gave him birdies on the first three holes. Later, Thailand’s Sattaya Supuramai joined Chiragh at 67 following his missed birdie-putt from five feet on the final hole.

On a day when 37 players — including former Indian Open winners Jyoti Randhawa and Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant — carded sub-par scores, Abhijit Chadha’s flawless back-nine dotted with three birdies made him the second-best Indian on view with 68.

It was great to see players adopting contrasting methods to tackle the course. If Perera used the ‘driver’ well and needed just 24 putts on this day, Chiragh used his discretion to use the ‘driver’ to create birdie opportunities. But Sattaya put his driver away and relied on the two-iron off the tee.

With the soft fairways making the course play longer than usual, it was important for the players to choose the right club for the second shot. The speed of the greens was on expected lines and did not challenge the players much.

“It is nice to start with two short birdies. That gave me a lot of confidence,” revealed Perera, who lost in the play-off in the last edition. Importantly, on this day, the Lankan stayed focussed on keeping the ball in play rather than getting too ambitious.

Chiragh, joint second in Macau Open last month, putted well to find six birdied during the day. “I hit about 14 greens in regulation and should have a pretty low number of putts. It was nice to finish with a 10-foot birdie,” said the local campaigner looking for his first Asian Tour title.

The scores (Indians unless stated):

Mithun Perera (Sri) 66; Chiragh Kumar, Sattaya Supupramai (Tha) 67 each; Thitipon Chuayprakong (Tha), N. Thangaraja (Sri), Siddikur Rahaman (Ban), Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) and Abhijit Chadha 68 each.

Other Indians with sub-par scores: S. Chikkarangappa, Shankar Das, Jyoti Randhawa, Khalin Joshi, 69 each; Deepinder Singh Khullar, Mukesh Kumar, Shubhankar Sharma, Rahil Gangjee, C. Muniyappa, Sanjay Kumar 70 each; Abhishek Jha, Gaganjeet Bhullar, Vikrant Chopra, Sujjan Singh, Amardip Malik, Digvijay Singh, Rashid Khan and Om Prakash Chouhan 71 each.