Perth, Australia: India’s Shiv Kapur took the risk of going ahead with his title charge at the ISPS Handa Perth International by posting a first round six-under-par 66 to trail American leader Peter Uihlein by one shot on Thursday.
Uihlein held a slim advantage atop the leaderboard with his opening 65 as Kapur and France’s Romain Wattel stayed closely behind after their identical 66s left them in second place at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
Playing without any expectations, the Indian was pleased with his early results as a sprained shoulder had threatened to force him out of contention at the A$1.75 million event which is seeing the return of the best players from the Asian Tour to Australia after a seven-year absence.
“I wasn't even sure I was going to tee it up. I was really struggling on the driving range with my shoulder this morning.
“So sometimes you just drop that expectation, don't really think about a golf swing, just try to get it around and play one shot at a time. That old cliché in golf, it seemed to work pretty well today,” said Kapur.
The Indian injured himself while picking his luggage off the airport carousel in Singapore.
Although he is carrying an injury, Kapur prefers to see the lighter side of things especially with his promising start.
“It's funny how you go to the gym, play golf and do all these things so that you don't get injured. Then the simplest thing happen when you travel,” said Kapur.
Kapur may be playing through the pain barrier with proper medication and treatment, but he did not show any nerves as he completed a sparkling round that was highlighted by six birdies.
“It was a big bonus not have a blemish on the card. I think that's the key out here is to rely eliminate the mistakes. The course does give you a lot of birdie opportunities, but you can be 50 or 60 yards on the green and still make a double-bogey.
“It's one of those courses where you just have to be on the correct side of the hole most of the time, and I think I managed to plot my way around that pretty well,” said Kapur.
Uihlein meanwhile demonstrated his resolve to win the ISPS Handa Perth International with an assured performance.
The American recovered quickly from a bogey on the first with birdies on the third, fourth and seventh holes.
However, his round really came to life when he holed his second shot on the ninth hole for eagle followed by another three birdies on 11, 14 and 17 to move him ahead of the chasing pack.
“I'm pleased with the way it came out. I was mentally sound. I didn't really let the bad shots turn me. When it's in the wind like this, you're going to hit bad shots, everybody does, so you've just got to accept it and move on from there.
"I putted nicely, which is always helpful, but if I didn't hit a good shot I didn't really let it bother me, I just let it roll off my back and I was ready for the next one,” said Uihlein.
While Uihlein stayed focused, Wattel went on the offensive as he continued his search for his maiden victory this week.
“The greens were soft this morning which were ideal for good scores as it made it easier for most of the players to attack the pin,
“I managed to get very close to the pin today and that was the difference today,” said the Frenchman.
The ISPS Handa Perth International is the only golf tournament in Australia to be tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and European Tour.
Leading scores after round 1 of the ISPS HANDA PERTH INTERNATIONAL being played at the par 72, 6531 Metres Lake Karrinyup GC course (am - denotes amateur):
65 - Peter Uihlein (USA).
66 - Romain Wattel (FRA), Shiv Kapur (IND).
67 - Rhein Gibson (AUS).
68 - Brett Rumford (AUS), Cormac Sharvin (IRL), Scott Arnold (AUS), Anthony Houston (AUS), Todd Sinnott (AUS), Nick Cullen (AUS), Magnus A Carlsson (SWE), Richard Lee (CAN).
69 - Ashley Hall (AUS), Peter Senior (AUS), Steven Jeffress (AUS), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Nino Bertasio (ITA), David Drysdale (SCO), Marcus Fraser (AUS), Michael Sim (AUS), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Wade Ormsby (AUS).
70 - Alexander Levy (FRA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Scott Strange (AUS), Mathew Goggin (AUS), Daniel Nisbet (AUS), Andrew Johnston (ENG), Robert Dinwiddie (ENG), Benjamin Hebert (FRA), Brad Kennedy (AUS), Masahiro Kawamura (JPN).
72 - Miguel Tabuena (PHI)
77 - Victor Dubuisson (FRA)