Gangjee hits the front

India’s Rahil Gangjee slowly carved his way to the top of the leaderboard, two shots ahead of the field, after the opening round of USD 300,000 Panasonic Open at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday.

Gangjee, who has been playing on the tree-lined course since he was a teenager, made the best use of the morning conditions when the wind had not picked up.

The 36-year-old, who teed off from the10th, hit a bogey in the opening hole but shot back with clean hitting, underlined by seven birdies, to card six-under-66.

Trailing him for the joint second place with a four-under card were Choo Tze Huang of Singapore, Zamal Hossain of Bangladesh, Wade Ormsby of Australia and local boy Rashid Khan.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond , Australia’s Unho Park and India’s Akshay Sharma and Shankar Das were amongst seven players tied in the sixth place on 69s.

Once he shrugged off an indifferent start, Gangjee, who is still looking to add to his maiden Asian Tour title which he won a decade ago in China in 2004, made a steady progress. An eight-foot birdie on the eighth hole followed by a 15-footer on the closing ninth capped off a successful round for him.

“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. I like to keep going and I birdied the last two holes to finish on 66,” said Gangjee.

Defending champion Ormsby, after a bogey on the fourth hole, recovered with vengeance. Four successive birdies from the fifth hole followed to launch the Australian back on the track.

“I made a great par save on the 14th hole. I took an unplayable then hit a great lob shot from the right rough from 75 yards and made the putt. That kept the momentum going. I hit two great shots on the last and a bit disappointed not to hole the simple eagle putt (16 feet) but overall pretty happy,” said the 34-year-old.

Rashid, who grew up playing in the venue, is still recovering from the food poisoning he suffered at Macau last week. He, however, rolled in a 25-footer on the 18th hole to stay within sight of the leader.

Leading scores (after 18 holes, Indians unless mentioned): 66: Rahil Gangjee; 68: Choo Tze Huang (Sin), Zamal Hossain (Ban), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Rashid Khan; 69: Settee Prakongvech (Tha), Akshay Sharma, Shankar Das, Unho Park (Aus), Om Prakash Chouhan, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha), Terry Pilkadaris (Aus), Pratap Atwal; 70: Blair Wilson (Aus), Siddikur Rahman (Ban), Abhishek Jha, Angad Cheema, Pachara Khongwatmai (Tha), Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha), SSP Chowrasia (Ind), Mithun Perera (Sri), Deepinder Singh Kullar, Kapil Kumar.

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