New Delhi: Three-time Asian Tour winner SSP Chawrasia raised Indian hopes on the opening day of the Hero Indian Open 2015 as he took top honours with a score of six-under-65 along with fellow PGTI member Md Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, Canadian Richard T Lee, Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Swede Joakim Lagergren.
Sri Lankan Mithun Perera and Australian Kalem Richardson were placed joint sixth at four-under-67.
Chawrasia, who started from the 10th tee on Thursday, had an error-free round as he picked up a total of six birdies, three before the turn and three after. SSP, who won the last Asian Tour event staged at the Delhi Golf Club, the Panasonic Open India, in November 2014, converted his longest putt of the day, a 15-footer, on the 17th. He also landed it within 10 feet for birdies on the 12th, 18th, first, sixth and eighth.
Chawrasia, who has had an amazing run of top-5s in all his last four starts at the DGC, said, “It feels good to have a bogey-free start to the week. I made some good putts and was hitting it good off the tees. It looked easy but it wasn’t. I think the winning score will be about 20-under.
“I’ve played here many times so I know how to play this course. I have good memories at this venue. I know exactly where to place the ball. Richard (T. Lee) was playing well as well so it was fun to play with him.
“This is my National Open and all the Indian golfers enjoy playing in this event. I’m not thinking too much on the course, I’m just enjoying myself. All my family and friends are here so that’s very encouraging,” added Chawrasia.
Defending champion Md Siddikur Rahman returned to the DGC, one of his favourite courses, with a solid 65. He birdied the first, seventh, eighth, 12th, 15th and 18th.
Siddikur said, “I played really good golf and made some long putts. My hitting was perfect so that was good. This is a tight and narrow golf course. I’m a very accurate player so I really like this type of course. You always see me in good positions when I play here.
“You have to plan your shots here and I know what to do here. I’m very excited to see my name on top of the leaderboard. I injured my back last year and I haven’t recovered fully as yet. The injury bothered me last week but hopefully I will be fine this week.”
PGTI member Mithun Perera, who was placed joint sixth at 67, had a quiet first-nine as he made bogey-birdie on the 11th and 12th. Perera, however, rallied with four birdies on his second-nine.
Perera said, “It is good to have three co-sanctioned events especially at Delhi Golf Club because when I come here I always have a good feeling. I always do well here. If I can do something this week, it will open many doors for me.”
Three Indians Chikkarangappa, Shubhankar Sharma and Chiragh Kumar occupied tied 15th place at two-under-69.
Arjun Atwal and Sujjan Singh were in tied 23rd at one-under-70.
Rashid Khan shot a 71 to be tied 39th while Jeev Milkha Singh was a further shot back in tied 55th.
Shiv Kapur and Anirban Lahiri lie in tied 80th spot with scores of 73.
Three-time Indian Open champion Jyoti Randhawa and Rahil Gangjee were in tied 93rd place with matching scores of 74.
Gaganjeet Bhullar ended the day in tied 121st place after he shot a 77.