Indian golfer Shubhankar Sharma emerged as the best Indian at tied 7th, lying two shots off the lead at the end of the first round of the Indian Open on Thursday.
Sharma was five-under through 14 holes and looked set for a share of the lead with Stephen Gallacher, who finished half an hour earlier.
But, Sharma ran into back-to-back bogeys and finished with 69, which he said was “still a decent start” on this course.
Gallacher, who had missed the cut in his last four starts, and Julian Suri shared the first round lead with rounds of 67 each.
Gallacher, a two-time Dubai Desert Classic winner, shot five-under 67 in the morning wave and that effort was equaled by Suri, who has Indian origins, with the same number in the afternoon.
“I think I played very well today did not make too many mistakes. I missed a couple of key putts on my front nine. Made a silly mistake on six and seven but apart from those holes I am pretty happy with how I finished,” Sharma said.
Speaking about his eagle on the fourth, which was his 13th holes, he said, “I hit it decent but not quite how I wanted to execute it. I ended up with a decent lie so fortunately I was lucky with where it ended up and hit it close enough (six feet) to make an eagle.”
The next best Indian player after Sharma was Rahil Gangjee (70) at Tied-16th, while OM Prakash Chouhan (71) was Tied-28th. Gaganjeet Bhullar and Rashid Khan shot 72 each to be Tied-46th. SSP Chawrasia and Shiv Kapur with 74 each were T-76th and Anirban Lahiri (77) was way down in 107th, needing a low second round to make the cut.
Gallacher and Suri had contrasting fortunes at the same Gary Player course at the DLF Golf and Country Club last year. The Scotsman was Tied-seventh, while Suri headed home early with rounds of 76-82.
Gallacher’s card included six birdies, one bogey and double and a closing eagle, while Suri had seven birdies and a bogey on either side of the course.
Suri, who was out of action with a surgery in the abdominal region late last year, said, “It was a good day. My caddie Dermot keeps encouraging me and calls me the Greatest Showman sometimes after the movie, so I had to give him a little show there.
“I got the all clear about four or fives weeks ago from the doc and last week in Malaysia was my first event. With the heat there and all the conditions, the body felt great and the swing felt good too. It’s obviously still a work in progress but to shoot a score like this, on a course like this, is a good sign going forward. (The course) is a great test.”
A year ago, Gallacher tied for seventh at the Hero Indian Open and that effort included five-under 67, which he equalled on Thursday.
Gallacher said, “It was a perfect morning. Cool to start with and then it heated up later on in the round, and not too much wind, so it was perfect today.
“I think you have to get it in play off the tee, there is just so much trouble. I think if you get the tee shot in place you can hit a couple of nice iron shots and take advantage of the par fours that are quite short, drive a couple, and knock it onto the par fives. It is quite a strategic course.”
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