Sujjan Singh, who hurt himself in a freak accident two years ago, continued his comeback with a fine four-under 66 that gave him a share of the third place at the end of the first round in the $1.3 million Hong Kong Open here on Thursday.
Sujjan was two shots behind Ireland’s David Higgins, who posted a six-under-par 64 to grab the first round lead.
Two shots behind Sujjan in tied 15th place are Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chowrasia, who cared 68 each, while Shiv Kapur (69) with two double bogeys in last four holes, was tied 27th.
The rest of the Indian contingent struggled on the first day as Jeev Milkha Singh (71) was tied 63rd, Jyoti Randhawa and Himmat Rai were tied 88th at 72 each and last week’s winner in Indonesia, Gaganjeet Bhullar (74) was 105th.
C. Muniyappa (77) was 129th in a field of 138.
Sujjan had as many as eight birdies, five of them on back nine, but he also dropped four bogeys, two on either side of the course.
Looking to bounce back from a freak accident, Sujjan said, “I was moving some luggage around my house and I hit my hand into a cupboard. I didn’t consider that much would happen, but a few days later I got an X-ray because it was so painful that I couldn’t grip the club.
“It took a lot longer than expected to heal. I was not as sharp as before in the few events. But I performed really well in some events back home in India and they have given me some encouragement,” added Sujjan, who has won once on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in Indonesia last year.
“I putted well. I think that was the main key. I also made a few great up and downs from the bunkers, and all the way I just kept playing pretty consistently. Over the last few weeks, my game has been improving steadily.”
Chowrasia looked like finishing the day way higher as he was four-under through 14 holes, but he dropped three shots in last four holes though he had one birdie, too.
Italy’s Andrea Pavan trailed Higgins by one when he returned with a 65 to take second place, while seven players including Sujjan, Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, and Thailand’s Prom Meesawat were bunched in equal third on matching 66s at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Higgins was delighted with his opening effort after he traded nine birdies against three bogeys on a golf course, which he felt suited to his playing style.
Pavan also opened his campaign at the Hong Kong Open promisingly as he notched six birdies against a lone bogey at the storied championship, which is celebrating its 55th anniversary.
Prom continued his resurgence and is hopeful of ending his seven-year winless drought on the Asian Tour after opening with a 66 in the morning.
The burly Thai came agonisingly close to winning again in Manila last month when he lost to China’s Liang Wen-chong in a play-off.
The Hong Kong Open is co-sanctioned by The European Tour, the Asian Tour and the Hong Kong Golf Association and is the third event of The 2014 Race to Dubai, and one of the last on the 2013 Asian Tour schedule