Toran Bikram Shahi displayed a solid performance to card a four-under 68 and emerge as the clubhouse leader on the opening day of the Rs. 95 lakh DLF Masters at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.
The Nepal golfer, who has been playing in India for many years, sprung a surprise even as many golfers found it difficult to return low scores in the first round. Three players — S.S.P. Chowrasia, Randhir Singh Ghotra and defending champion Himmat Rai — shared the second spot at 69.
Six pros could not finish the opening round as play was suspended due to bad light. In the morning, the tee-off was delayed by 40 minutes because of fog. The first round will resume on Friday morning and will be followed by the second round.
Even as faster greens provided some challenges, Shahi controlled his game well to notch up a flawless front-nine studded with five consecutive pars and two birdies. The 34-year-old played a fine approach shot to gather a birdie on the ninth.
His back-nine was dramatic as he missed a short putt on 12th after gaining a shot each on the 10th and 11th. The next two holes got him a birdie and a bogey before he steadied his game to sign off by saving a shot.
“I just played two bad shots, one putt (12th) and one drive (14th). Otherwise, my hitting and putting was solid,” said Shahi.
Known as ‘Chiputtsia’ for his command over the short game, Chowrasia, who started by dropping two shots before making up for it with an eagle on the sixth, relied on his chip-and-putt skills to play a blemish-free back-nine and settle for a three-under score.
Rai, who putted well from close apart from sinking a 15-footer on the 14th, never let the situation go out of his hands on his home course. The only aberrations were on 12th and 16th.
Ghotra, the other man to score a 69, was one of the most disciplined performers. He announced his intentions by parring his front-nine before earning four more birdies, including a few close ones. Ghotra slipped only on the seventh hole after hitting it into a bunker.
Ajeetesh Sandhu was at the fifth place, while 11 players were tied for the sixth position.
The scores: Toran Bikram Shahi 68; Himmat Rai, Randhir Singh Ghotra and S.S.P. Chowrasia 69; Ajeetesh Sandhu 70; Vinod Kumar, Feroze Ali Mollah, Abhinav Lohan, Abhijit Singh Chadha, Shamim Khan, Punir Mehta, M. Dharma, Gaurav Pratap Singh, Gulfam, Gurki Shergill and Digvijay Singh 71; Naman Dawar, Mohd. Zamal Hossain Mollah, Kunal Bhasin, Raju Ali Mollah, Pradeep Kumar and Keshav Kapoor 72.