Rakesh Rao

GURGAON: The script followed the expected course with Thailand Open champion Pornanong Phatlum staying atop the leaderboard and Smriti Mehra emerging as the best Indian on view on the first day of the $120,000 DLF women’s Indian Open here on Wednesday.

On a hot day at the DLF Golf and Country Club, 18-year-old Phatlum wasted no time in letting everyone know that she was enjoying the course.

Four birdies on the front-nine against a lone bogey helped her stay at three-under till the end of 12 holes.

Thereafter, she bogeyed and birdied alternatively over the next four holes and then dropped another shot on the final hole for a two-under 70.

“It was a bad approach shot on the final hole,” said Phatlum and continued, “but I am happy with my round today.”

The Thai was a shot ahead of Indonesian amateur Lidya Ivana Jaya and European Tour regular Finland’s Jeeni Kuosa.

Lidya’s lone birdie on the home-nine brought her under-par for the day.

For Jeeni, the birdie-birdie finish for an inward 34 kept her within striking distance of the leader.

Hole-in-one

Fourth placed Huei-Ju-Shih from Chinese Taipei fired the first hole-in-one of the event. She let go an 8-iron on the par-3 171-yard eighth hole.

She is now in contention for the Rs. 50,000 prize put up by Sudhir Gensets. In case of more aces, the money will be shared.

Smriti, tied fifth after a 73, bogeyed twice on the front-nine after starting from the 10th hole.

She picked up a shot on the back-nine while maintaining a high percentage of pars on either side of the turn.

Irina Brar, the country’s best bet after Smriti, shot a 76 to be tied 20th, along with Britain’s Kiran Matharu.

One shot behind was US-based amateur Tanya Wadhwa. Bangalore’s Sharmila Nicollet was two-under after 13 holes but lost her way badly for a heart-breaking 79.

The scores:

Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 70; Lidya Ivana Jaya (Ina) (A), Jenni Kuosa (Fin) 71; Huei-Ju Shih (Tpe) 72; Porani Chutichai (Tha), Nontaya Srisawang (Tha), Wang Chun (Chn), Yuki Sakurai (Jpn), Smriti Mehra (Ind) and Yeo Jin Kang (Kor) 73.

Other Indians: Irina Brar 76; Tanya Wadhwa (A) 77; Sharmila Nicollet (A) 79; Sanya Sharma 81; Parnita Garewal 82; Gauri Monga (A), Sonavi Chopra (A) 83; Mehar Atwal (A), Seema Sobti 84; Pallavi Jain 85; Nonita Lall Qureshi , Shalini Malik , Vandana Aggarwal 86; Nikki Ponappa 87; Inder Preet Kaur 88; Neha Tripathi 89.

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