Arjun Atwal fired a superb nine-under-par 62 without playing a practice round, to lead by four shots on the first day at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open on Thursday.
The former Asian Tour number one posted a flawless round, highlighted by seven birdies and an eagle to hold a commanding lead over Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, Sebastian Heisele of Germany, Louis de Jager of South Africa and Adilson Da Silva of Brazil at the Heritage Golf Club.
Among other Indians – Shubhankar Sharma (68) was T-21, while SSP Chawrasia and Shiv Kapur with 67 each were T-31, Chiragh Kumar, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Honey Baisoya with 70 each were T-44th and S Chikkarangappa (71) was T-62. Himmat Rai (73), Ajeetesh Sandhu (74), Rahil Gangjee (75), Khalin Joshi (75) and Sujjan Singh (77) were further behind.
Atwal, who is the Captain for Team Asia at the 2018 EurAsia Cup exceeded his own expectations by shooting 31 in each half with the highlight of his day coming on the 14th hole where he sank a huge 25-foot eagle putt. His score of 62 is also the new course record at the Heritage Golf Club.
“I was in Kuala Lumpur the last two days to announce the players in Team Asia for the EurAsia Cup and I had some media activities to do. I had no practice round and straight on the first tee,” said Atwal. “I am pleased and shocked. I took a very long route coming here. I came through Dubai and it took me 16 hours to get here. I was tired and I didn’t really expect anything. Sometimes when you don’t expect much, you get a lot out of it.”
Atwal replaced the course record of 65 set by Jeunghun Wang of Korea, Carlos Pigem of Spain and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark in 2015.
An eight-time Asian Tour champion, Atwal’s last victory was at the 2014 Dubai Open. He also won the Order of Merit in 2003. Atwal holds the distinction as the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour at the 2010 Wyndham Championship.