Australian Travis Smyth and Shankar Das from India carded fine five-under-par 67s to take the lead on day one of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard.

Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Indian Veer Ahlawat carded 68s, while India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu and Karandeep Kochhar returned 69s, on the famous Lodhi course at Delhi Golf Club – which was recently re-designed by South African great Gary Player.

Smyth, looking for his first win on the Asian Tour, opted not to use his driver on the notoriously tight golf course and it paid dividends as he shot an eagle, four birdies and dropped just one shot.

“I’d like to know if this is actually the tightest golf course in the world because if there is a course out there tighter than this then I don’t want to play it,” said the 27-year-old Australian.

“My strength is my iron play so not having my driver out here, I am quite happy with that. All the par fours I am hitting between a five iron or two iron off the tee, leaving myself eight irons to wedges in.”

It’s the first time he has played at Delhi Golf Club and judging by his round today he has an instant attraction to it.

He said: “You have to hit it so straight off these tees and with the wind swirling the anxiety levels are up around Delhi. I took the driver out of my bag for the first time in my life. I didn’t bring it to the course, there might be one hole, where I could use it, on hole number three, but I thought I would just use three wood and take driver out, and have an extra club in the bag.”

Having teed off on 10 his round quickly got going when he eagled the par-five 14th.

“I hit two iron off the tee [on 14]. I had planned to play it as a three-shot hole, but the ball ran out much further, so I thought I had better go for the green and I hit one of the best high three irons of my life up onto the top shelf, about 15 feet and holed the putt,” added Smyth.

Veteran Das produced one of the best rounds of his 20-year career to share the limelight with Smyth.

He didn’t drop a shot on the front nine and went out in four under before making two birdies and a bogey on the homeward stretch.

“I have practiced a lot with my three-wood for DGC,” said Das.

“This is a very good course. Earlier there were flat greens, but now there are more high greens. Now not only do you have to hit the tee shot well, but you have to hit the second shot really well, then only you get a chance for a birdie. Overall, I feel I am getting my game back

India’s Shiv Kapur, a four-time champion on the Asian Tour and winner of the 2017 Panasonic Open India at Delhi Golf Club, carded a 71 and is tied ninth.

“I started off quite well, was quite happy with my round, was four under for the first 10 holes. Then I hit a bit of a speed bump on the back nine. I didn’t quite have my A game today. I made a couple of sloppy bogeys coming in and that made the difference between a good and an average round,” said Kapur, who is a member of the club.

“The course is in the best condition I’ve ever seen. Overall, the changes to the course have been good. Earlier on the par fives you hit a good tee shot and that was pretty much game over. Now you’ve got to hit good shots into the greens, or you have some pretty tricky up and downs. On a course like this lined with trees and bushes, there’s no margin for error. One loose shot here is two, three shots gone and the big numbers can really hurt you around here.”

Scores after round 1 of The DGC Open Presented By Mastercard being played at the par 72, 6957 Yards Delhi GC course (am – denotes amateur):

67 – Travis Smyth (AUS), Shankar Das (IND).
68 – Veer Ahlawat (IND), Nitithorn Thippong (THA).
69 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Karandeep Kochhar (IND).
70 – Varun Parikh (IND), Zach Bauchou (USA).
71 – Md. Zamal Hossa Mollah (BAN), Aman Raj (IND), Settee Prakongvech (THA), Shiv Kapur (IND), Shamim Khan (IND), Ian Snyman (RSA), Kevin Yuan (AUS), Sachin Baisoya (IND), Kasidit Lepkurte (THA), Manu Gandas (IND), Bjorn Hellgren (SWE), Blake Collyer (AUS), M Dharma (IND).
72 – Sanjeev Kumar (L) (IND), Manav Jaini (IND), Abhinav Lohan (IND), C. Muniyappa (IND), Cory Crawford (AUS), Abhijit Chadha (IND), Mathiam Keyser (RSA), Suttijet Kooratanapisan (THA), Jack Munro (AUS), Mani Ram (IND), Oscar Zetterwall (SWE), Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM), Om Prakash Chouhan (IND), Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA), Dhruv Sheoran (IND), Dodge Kemmer (USA), Rashid Khan (IND), Mardan Mamat (SIN).
73 – Gaurav Pratap Singh (IND), Ranjit Singh (IND), Sydney Chung (USA), Yashas Chandra (IND), Rajesh Gautam (am, IND), N. Thangaraja (LKA), Mohammad Sanju (IND), Sangchai Kaewcharoen (THA), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Rahil Gangjee (IND), Mithun Perera (LKA), William Harrold (ENG), Amrit Lal (IND).
74 – Kapil Kumar (IND), Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Rory Hie (INA), Abdul Hadi (SIN), Vikrant Chopra (IND), Miguel Delgado (USA), Justin Quiban (PHI), Arjun Singh (IND), Angad Cheema (IND), Khalin Joshi (IND), Sunit Chowrasia (IND).
75 – Viraj Madappa (IND), Ankur Chadha (IND), Tapy Ghai (IND), Anura Rohana (LKA), Pawan Kumar (IND), Aadil Bedi (IND), Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (IND), Siddikur Rahman (BAN), Chiragh Kumar (IND), Aryan Anand Roopa (am, IND), Sudhir Sharma (IND), Ryoto Furuya (USA).
76 – Aalap I.L. (IND), Honey Baisoya (IND), Amir Nazrin (MAS), Harendra Gupta (IND), Kshitij Naveed Kaul (IND), Danthai Boonma (THA), Paul Peterson (USA), Naman Dawar (IND), Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (THA), Sunhit Bishnoi (IND), Harshjeet Singh Sethie (IND), Jack Harrison (ENG), Ben Eccles (AUS), Tanapat Pichaikool (THA), S Chikkarangappa (IND), Koh Deng Shan (SIN), Mukesh Kumar (IND).
77 – S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND), Amandeep Singh Johl (IND), Chen Guxin (CHN), Karan Pratap Singh (IND), Gaurav Ghei (IND), Poom Pattaropong (THA), Mohd Azhar (IND).
78 – Arjun Prasad (IND), Mitchell Slorach (SIN), R. Marimuthu (IND), Hein Sithu (MYN), Amardeep Malik (IND), Will Heffernan (AUS), Jesse Yap (SIN), Divyanshu Bajaj (IND), Karan Vasudeva (IND).
79 – Aditya Singh (am, IND), Christoffer Baumann (SWE), Jay Pandya (IND), Amritinder Singh (IND), Pranav Mardikar (am, IND), Joshua Grenville-Wood (ENG), Peter Gunawan (INA).
80 – Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA), Trishul Chinnappa (IND), Saarthak Chhibber (IND), Shivendra Singh Sisodia (IND).
81 – Janne Kaske (FIN).
82 – Badal Hossain (BAN), Sangun Lee (KOR), Ira Alido (PHI), Harmeet Kahlon (IND), Akshay Sharma (IND), Vuttivit Charoenpornanukul (THA), Kartik Sharma (IND).
83 – Brett Munson (USA), Syed Saqib Ahmed (IND), Choo Tze Huang (SIN), Shaurya Bhattacharya (am, IND), Kevin Phelan (IRL), Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA), Arjun Sharma (IND).
85 – Vishav Pratap S Gill (IND), Lionel Weber (FRA).
87 – Tushar Pannu (am, IND).
93 – Gabriel Hernandez (USA).

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