Smog in Gurugram delays start of Panasonic Open, Itthipat on top after day 1

Thai player Ittipat Buranatanyarat ended the day 1 of Panasonic Open on top after toxic smog in Gurugram delayed of the tournament by more than four hours.

Thailand's Itthipat Buranatanyarat, the first-day leader of the $400,000 Panasonic Open in Gururam on Thursday.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

For a few weeks now, the National capital and the adjoining regions have been in the news for persistent smog leading to low visibility and rising pollution levels. On Thursday, the thick blanket of haze played havoc with the opening day’s proceedings of the $400,000 Panasonic Open at the Classic Golf and Country Club in Gurugram on Thursday.

In the words of the Asian Tour, "owing to poor visibility and the revealing weather conditions" the first tee-off scheduled at 6.50 am could only take place at 11 am.

It was decided to have a rare, four-tee start - from the first, sixth, 10th and 15th holes. Only 60 of the 126 golfers could tee-up and complete their rounds. The remaining golfers will open their campaign on Friday. Those who played on Thursday get a day's rest.

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Although there is no official word from the Asian Tour, the event is heading for a 54-hole finish. The forecast for the weekend indicates slight improvement in visibility.

On the course, little-known Thai Ittipat Buranatanyarat took the clubhouse lead at eight-under 64. Following a birdie-birdie start after teeing off from the sixth hole, Buranatanyarat fired five successive birdies starting from the 13th hole. He owes his two-stroke lead over Indonesia’s Danny Masrin to his ‘eagle’ on the third hole.

Masrin, too, began from the sixth hole and fired six birdies in his bogey-free round. Creditably, he birdied three of the four par-5 holes.

This was in contrast with what Shiv Kapur could manage in his card of 67. Returning to this course after a decade and starting from the 15th hole, Kapur could birdie just once on the par-5s. He made up with some
consistent putting to share the third spot.

The trio of Arjun Atwal (69), Jeev Milkha Singh (70) and Jyoti  Randhawa (72) had mixed luck. Jyothi, who later cut a cake to mark his 300 appearance since 1994 on the Asian Tour, was eager to return to the course make up for the lost opportunities.

The scores:

64 - Itthipat Buranatanyarat (Tha); 66- Danny Masrin (Ina); 67 - Arjun Prasad, Shiv Kapur, M. Dharma, Hung Chien-Yao (Tpe) and Shankar Das; 68 - Ben Geyer (USA), Anura Rohana (Sri) and Jesse Yap (Sgp).

Other Indians with sub-par scores: 69 - Viraj Madappa, Aadil Bedi and Arjun Atwal; 70 - Om Prakash Chouhan, Gaurav Pratap Singh, Jeev Milkha Singh; 71 - Yashas Chandra and Himmat Rai.
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