India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu finished with back-to-back birdies to get into the top-10 with a score of three-under 67 in the opening round of the season-opening Hong Kong Open on Thursday.

Sandhu, who had a decent season in 2019 with two runner-up finishes on Asian Tour and a win on domestic Indian Tour, is tied-sixth and two shots behind the co-leaders, Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki, who carded five-under-par 65 each.

Shiv Kapur was the next best Indian at two-under 68 and tied-12th alongside Thai Jazz Janewattananond, who won the 2019 Order of Merit. Two other Indians, Rashid Khan and Jyoti Randhawa turned in sub-par rounds of 69 each to be tied-20th, as was the reigning Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland and Tony Finau at the challenging Par-70 Hong Kong Golf Club.

Of the dozen Indians in the field, five of them, Chiragh Kumar (70), S Chikkarangappa (70), Khalin Joshi (70), Jeev Milkha Singh and SSP Chawrasia shot even par 70 each and were tied-31st. Rahil Gangjee and Aman Raj (71) were tied-49th while Viraj Madappa (72) was tied-68th.

Sandhu with one birdie and one bogey was even par till the 11th, on a course, where the back nine starts on the 11th. He birdied 12th and 13th but then dropped a shot on 16th before closing with 17th and 18th.

Kapur started on the 11th with a bogey and nothing else happened till he reached the third which he birdied. He added birdies on fourth and sixth but dropped a shot on eighth.

Kapur, making his 15th start in Hong Kong in 16 years as a pro, said, “Today was a tough day, you know the this was probably the toughest conditions I have played on this golf course of all the years that I’ve been here. It was windy and cold and it was hard to pick where it’s coming from.

“The wind was changing direction and you know in the trees it bounces around, so I think that was the main challenge. I got off to a slow start and then nothing happened for my first 10 or 11 holes and then made three birdies in the space of four holes and managed to hang on.”

Ormsby, winner in 2017, made six birdies against one bogey. Ormsby’s two Asian Tour wins came at the Panasonic Open India and the Hong Kong Open in 2017.

Ridhima moves into two-shot lead of WPGT

Ridhima Dilawari continued from where she left off last season as she moved into sole lead after second round of the first Leg of the Women’s Pro Golf Tour 2020 at the Poona Club Golf Course in Pune on Thursday.

Dilawari, who shared the first round lead with amateur Pranavi Urs (70-73), shot 71 to go with her first round card of 70 to aggregate one-under 141 at the Par-71 layout.

Dilawari, who won five times in 12 starts in 2019, is now two shots clear of Pranavi and Amandeep Drall, whose second round 70 was the only sub-par round of the day. Vani Kapoor moved up with one-over 72 and at 147 for two rounds, is now tied-fourth alongside Afshan Fatima (73-74).

Dilawari, who played solid and steady golf through 2019, may well have been more than two shots clear of the field, but for the closing bogey on Par-5 18th. She also dropped a shot on another Par-5, the seventh besides Par-4 eighth and 11th. Her birdies came on Par-3 fourth, Par-4 ninth, Par-4 10th and Par-5 12th.

Amandeep was doing very well with three birdies against just one bogey on the front nine. She added another on 11th to go to three-under for the day, but dropped shots on 15th and 17th to fall to 70.

Pranavi started the day with a triple bogey on Par-4 first hole but creditably managed to hold her round together with three birdies and two other bogeys for a card of 73. Vani Kapoor had one birdie against two bogeys in her 72.

Fancied Diksha Dagar (72-77) and Saaniya Sharma (73-76) are tied-sixth, while Jyotsana Singh (77-74), Sonam Chugh (76-75), Mehar Atwal (76-75) and Neha Tripathi (74-77) are tied-eighth at 151 each. The winner of the Hero Order of Merit in 2019, Gaurika Bishnoi struggled for the second day running as she carded 79 after 76 in the first round.