Golf :Thailand’s Itthipat leads four Indians at joint 3rd place on a curtailed opening day at Panasonic Open India

By Harpal Singh Bedi

Nuh, Haryana: The Indian foursome of Shiv Kapur, Arjun Prasad, M Dharma and Shankar Das carded identical of five-under-67 and were three shots behind clubhouse leader Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat on the first day of the ninth edition of the US$400,000 Panasonic Open India here on Thursday.

26-year-old Itthipat fired an opening round eight-under-par 64, with seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey during his eight-under 64.

His 64 was followed by a 66 from Indonesian Danny Masrin and they were followed by the four Indians along with Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao.

The trio of American Ben Geyer, Sri Lankan veteran Anura Rohana and Singaporean Jesse Yap, rounded off the Top-10 with cards of 68 each.

The round began at 11 am, four hours and 10 minutes behind schedule, due to poor visibility and the weather conditions. The 60 golfers in the first session of play completed their rounds while the 66 golfers in the second session will play their first round on Friday.
2017 winner Shiv Kapur returned a bogey-free 67. He birdied three of his first four holes adding two more birdies to his card on the sixth and 10th.

“I started off playing really well, Thought I played quite solid all day but I did not take advantage of the par 5s as I should have which was disappointing, Only birdied one of them and missed a couple of easy opportunities on the third hole and ninth here I was on the front edge of the green both times.” Kapur said after his ound

“All in all, I’m pleased with the start, five under is a solid start but given the way I played and the positions I put myself into, should have been a couple of shots lower, but all in all, it was a good day.

The 20-year-old Arjun Prasad, was satisfied to have shot a low number after a long time.He got on a roll from the ninth hole onward as he sank four birdies on the trot. The best of the lot was the birdie on the 10th where he hit a shot from the fairway bunker, 130 yards out, to land it within a couple of feet of the flag. He thereafter picked up a bogey and a birdie each.

“Even though it’s not been a good season for me I know I have the game and still have the self-belief to turn it around. “As I struggled with my game, I recently decided to change my approach during practice. I’m now playing more practice rounds and spending lesser time at the range as compared to what I was doing earlier. “Prasad said

M Dharma and Shankar Das too struck bogey-free rounds of 67. While Dharma missed a hole-in-one by a whisker on the 17th, Shankar landed it close through the day to set up four birdie conversions within four feet.
Veteran Arjun Atwal made a promising start with a 69 to be tied 11th along with compatriots Viraj Madappa and Aadil Bedi. Jeev Milkha Singh shot two-under 70 to be tied 20th along with Om Prakash Chouhan and Gaurav Pratap Singh.

Jyoti Randhawa, celebrating his 300th start on the Asian Tour, shot a 72 to be tied 33rd.

“Today was one of those rare occasions where we played in a four-tee start. I think the only other time when I played like this was during an ADT event. But it was okay. I just needed to wear a mask and apart from that, it was business as usual. There was a long wait and it was almost after four hours that I got to tee off.”Leader Itthipat said,

Itthipat, who turned pro in 2014 revealed “I fell asleep once during that wait. I couldn’t really see where the ball was beyond 250 yards as I’m short-sighted so I had to rely on my caddie’s advice. But overall, it was okay. I managed to play well despite everything and I’m very proud of myself.”

The score was still short of the course of record of 62, shot three times in 2009 SAIL Open – twice by Chapchai Nirat and once by Anirban Lahiri.

Masrin, who like Itthipat started on the sixth, said, “It’s not usual to start my round in the middle of the golf course and I just take it as it is because I know the tournament organisers have to do whatever they can to get the tournament going. It turned out to be alright as I birdied that first hole and hit some good iron shots today. I managed to judge the rough pretty well today and made a few putts. The weather conditions didn’t really play up too much on my mind. It is what it is and I just played one shot at a time. We are in this together and trying to see where our balls end up.” IANS