New Delhi: Having followed accepted wisdom these many years, Shiv Kapur chose to go the other way on the opening day of the $400,000 Panasonic Open India at the Delhi Golf Club here on Thursday.
The ‘no driver’ formula was put away, the big club came out and he blasted his way to a seven-under par 65, one off the pace set by Ajeetesh Sandhu.
On an India-heavy leaderboard, Thailand’s grizzled warrior Thaworn Wirctchant was holding on three shots behind Sandhu while Australia’s Scott Barr, Steve Lewton of England and Natipong Srithong of Thailand had a share of seventh place on four under 68s.
It was otherwise pretty much a local affair with 13 Indians in the top 21 scorers on the day.One shot behind Kapur, and two behind Sandhu, were Shamim Khan of the DGC, a 14-time winner on the Indian tour, and Patna’s Aman Raj, who after turning pro last year, has already registered two runner-up finishes on six-under 66 each. S.S.P. Chawrasia, who has won three different Asian Tour events here — the 2008 Emaar-MGF, the 2014 Panasonic Open India and the 2015 Hero Indian Open — was T-5 along with Thaworn, who also won the 2005 Hero Indian Open here at the DGC. Sandhu continued his brilliant run with a sizzling eight-under 64, his best card of the year and one of his best ever at this venue in a round dotted with seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey. Since the Chandigarh golfer’s shared third at the Take Solutions in Bengaluru, Sandhu has had title wins on the Asian tour (in Taiwan) and Japan (Challenge Tour) and adding to the pleasure of a healthy score was the presence of his parents. “It is the first time I was meeting them since my wins in Taiwan and Japan. So, there was a lot to talk about,” Ajeetesh said.
“This is just the first round. But 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.”
Kapur, meanwhile, showed that despite illness in recent months, he was a man on a mission. With a second Asian Tour win this season, 11 years after the first one — with a couple of European Challenge Tour wins in between — he has been saying that he would love to win once more this season for his infant daughter Veda.
“Despite this nice score, I know it is just the first day and there is lot of golf to be played,” Kapur said. “It was a good start. I chipped-in for birdie on the second then got a birdie on the fifth. The up and down on the eighth gave me a lot of momentum, taking me to four-under for the day. I then recovered really well for par on the 14th after finding the bushes with my second shot. Finally, the birdies on the last three holes converted a good day into a great one.”