With the weather improving, the opening day of the Indian Open golf tournament threw up some surprises.
Forty-four players returned under-par scores and six of them, including Rahil Gangjee, share the lead on six-under 66 at the narrow tree-lined Delhi Golf Club (DGC) on Thursday.
On the opening day of the 50th edition of the $1.25 million Asian Tour event, Gangjee led the home challenge even as top guns like Jyoti Randhawa (70) and Anirban Lahiri (71) finished outside the top-20 and Arjun Atwal (73), Shiv Kapur (75), Gaganjeet Bhullar (77) scored over-par scores.
Little-known Shankar Das (67) overcame foggy conditions to collect six birdies and a bogey to enjoy the sole seventh spot.
Starting from the 10th, Rahil benefited from his short game to earn six birdies, including two (11th, 18th) in the first half. After sinking his last and longest birdie (a 20-footer on the eighth) Gangjee made the only mistake of the day on the final hole.
After a wayward tee shot, Gangjee had to get past a tree-topped mound.
The 34-year-old used his wedge to good effect and ended up saving par.
“I have done it so many times here after getting into trouble. I gained confidence from that putt,” said Gangjee.
Mohammad Siddikur, Mardan Mamat, Thai Chapchai Nirat, Pariya Junhasasavasdikul and Carlos Pigem were tied for the top spot with identical six-under cards.
First round: 66: Mohammad Siddikur (Ban), Rahil Gangjee, Mardan Mamat (Sin), Pariya Junhasasavasdikul (Tha), Chapchai Nirat (Tha) and Carlos Pigem (Esp).
67: Shankar Das; 68: Jay Baron (Phi), Shamim Khan, Unho Park (Aus); 69: S.S.P. Chowrasia, Sam Brazel (Aus), Adam Groom (Aus), Chiragh Kumar, Rashid Khan, Gi-whan Kim (Kor), Seuk-Hyun Baek (Kor), Javi Colomo (Esp), Angelo Que (Phi), Matthew Stieger (Aus), Sattaya Supupramai (Tha).