Grillo fires in 65 to take lead

Sandhu best-placed Indian at tied-seventh place

Grillo fires in 65 to take lead

Argentine Emiliano Grillo grabbed a two-stroke clubhouse lead in the first round of US$ 1,750,000 Hero Indian Open 2018 at Delhi Golf & Country Club on Thursday.

Grillo, played a flawless back-nine, for a sensational 65 and sank a remarkable eight birdies on the menacing course, which tripped most Indians. In fact, the severity of the course ensured 24 out of 144 players could not finish their rounds due to the number of rulings required throughout the day.

Grillo left behind a crowded second place comprising, Pablo Larrazábal, who almost missed his tee time due to a failed alarm, Matteo Manassero, Paul Peterson, Adrien Saddier and Keith Horne at 67.

Ajeetesh Sandhu (68) was the best Indian in the field at tied seventh place even as his fancied compatriots endured a rough day. Arjun Atwal (71) was the only other Indian who finished with a sub-par round. The man of the moment Shubhankar Sharma finished tied 57 (73), defending champion SSP Chawrasia tied 73 (74), Anirban Lahiri at tied 37 (72) and Shiv Kapur, with four bogeys, at tied 78.

Sandhu, who was tied with Scotsman Marc Warren, kept the Indian hope floating with five birdies and a bogey. "I could say today's round was almost a dream round. My hitting was just amazing. We were a little lucky that the wind wasn't up today otherwise this course can pose many more challenges," said Sandhu, who enjoyed a breakthrough season on Asian Tour last year.

Grillo, who got an invite for the week having played in only two European Tour events outside of the Majors and World Golf Championships since 2015, made a birdie-bogey start. He, however, soon got into the groove and scored a hat-trick from the seventh to turn in at 32. Another birdie on the 11th got him a share of lead and he consolidated with two more on 13th and 18th.

"I almost had to play perfect golf out there. It's a very difficult golf course. I was able to make some good putts and hit the fairways when I needed to," said Grillo, who tied the course record which was set by Gavin Green in 2017.

Shubhankar, meanwhile, took positives from his play on front nine, where he hit four birdies. He had three bogeys and a double bogey on back nine.

"I didn't start the event the way I would've liked to. I'm happy with my comeback on the front-nine and the way I finished the round. My ball-striking was good through the day," he said.

"I wasn't really fatigued but just a little tired because of the jet lag after traveling all the way from Mexico on Tuesday. Ironically, when the tiredness actually started creeping in on the front-nine, I started striking the ball better."

McIlroy invite for Sharma

It is only getting better for Shubhankar Sharma who on Thursday received an invitation from Rory McIlroy to play the practice round with him at the Masters.

"I'm really excited. It's something I'm looking forward to," he said.

Leading scores after 18 holes (Indians unless mentioned): 65 - Emiliano Grillo (Arg); 67 - Pablo Larrazabal (Esp), Matteo Manassero (Ita), Paul Peterson (Usa), Adrien Saddier(Fra), Keith Horne (Rsa); 68 - Marc Warren (Sco), Ajeetesh Sandhu; 69 - Nicholas Fung (Mas), Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha), Terry Pilkadaris (Aus), Sebastien Gros (Fra), Gavin Green (Mas), Shaun Norris (Rsa), Matt Wallace (Eng), Jeunghun Wang (Kor)

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