Sizzling Sandhu grabs lead

Sizzling Sandhu grabs lead

Ajeetesh Sandhu kept up his form by opening with eight-under-par 64 in the first round of Panasonic Open which teed off at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday.

Sandhu leads a pack of Indians, beginning with Shiv Kapur, who was a stroke behind with a flawless 65. There were a total of nine Indians in top-13 at the end of the first day. Aman Raj, who has a stellar amateur record, and Shamim Khan were tied at the third spot with a 66.

Sandhu, who earned his breakthrough in Chinese Taipei last month, made a sizzling start to the US$400,000 event carding seven birdies, and one eagle. The only blip in his clinical performance was the bogey on the third hole.

"I feel really good to be able to shoot such a low score especially on a challenging golf course like this. I made the only bogey on the third hole. It was a tough tee shot which went into the rough and I didn't have a shot from there. So I had to lay out on the green where I hit it to about 15 feet and missed the putt," reflected the 29-year-old.

Kapur was all class on his home course. He sank a total of seven birdies, including three in a row at 16th, 17th and 18th to move to sole second position.

"What worked for me today was that I made some crucial saves today at some key moments. My up and downs were pretty good. Finally, the birdies on the last three holes converted a good day into a great one," said Kapur who recently won his second Asian Tour event -- the 2017 Yeangder Heritage in Taiwan, 11 years after the first one.

SSP 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 tied fifth along with veteran of 18 Asian Tour titles, Thaworn Wiratchant at five-under.

The 2015 champion Chiragh Kumar carded four-under 68 that ended with an eagle and a double bogey on the eighth and ninth, as he started the day from the back nine. Tied with Chiragh at seventh were Divyanshu Bajaj, Amardip Malik, Akshay Sharma, Thai Natipong Srithong, England's Steve Lewton, and veteran Scott Barr of Australia.

However, it didn't turn out to be a great start for defending champion Mukesh Kumar (72), who was tied 41, on a day when 40 players scored under par.

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