Delhi, November 6 - Home favorite Rahil Gangjee birdied the last two holes to set the early lead on six-under-par 66 in the on-going first round of the Panasonic Open India on Thursday.
The amiable India masterminded a tactical display of golf at the tricky Delhi Golf Club to lead by two shots over Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, who returned with his best score of 68 at the tree-lined course.
Australia’s Unho Park, Settee Prakongvech of Thailand and Indian duo Akshay Sharma and Shankar Das were a further shot back in tied fourth at the US$300,000 event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).
“My coach Ajay Gupta showed me a really nice way to play on this golf course. He said this is a chess game. You go from point A to point B and you make a putt. That kind of mind-set really helps because you pick a yardage off the tees and you hit it to a spot you want. It’s like playing a par three,” said Gangjee.
The 36-year-old, who is aiming to end a 10-year title drought, opened with a bogey but battled back with seven birdies including an eight-footer birdie on eight followed by a 15-footer on his closing ninth hole.
“Things happened gradually and slowly for me today. I’m glad it did because that’s what builds momentum. If things happen in a hurry, you tend to slow down sometimes. Even though I bogeyed the first hole, I thought to myself that people have come back to shoot a really low round. By the time I got to nine, I was well on my way,” he smiled.
Without a driver in the golf bag, Choo was playing brilliantly through 15 holes before losing focus and dropping shots on holes seven and nine. In his third appearance at the Delhi Golf Club, the bespectacled Singaporean believes he knows the key to success here.
“I’m definitely more prepared this year compared to my first two years. I holed a lot of putts but lost focus on the last few holes. Maybe I got a bit nervous. My driver is in the house, it is not even close to the golf club. I just have a three-wood, hybrid and driving iron,” said Choo.
Indonesia is represented with four players at the tournament. George Gandranata had the best round of the four, coming in at 1 under par, putting him in a share of 24th place. Meanwhile Rory Hie, who needed 3 more strokes, is in a 12-way tie for 50th place and will need a solid round tomorrow to play in the weekend.
Rinaldi Adiyandono (76) and William Sjaichudin (77) are further back in 74th and 86th place respectively.
Leading scores afre Round 1 of the Panasonic Open India (Par 72):
66 - Rahil GANGJEE (IND)
68 - CHOO Tze Huang (SIN), Zamal HOSSAIN (BAN), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Rashid KHAN (IND)
69 - Settee PRAKONGVECH (THA), Akshay SHARMA (IND), Shankar DAS (IND), Unho PARK (AUS), Om Prakash CHOUHAN (IND), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS), Pratap ATWAL (A) (IND)
71 - George GANDRANATA (INA)
74 - Rory HIE (INA)
76 - Rinaldi ADIYANDONO (INA)
77 - William SJAICHUDIN (INA)