Italy’s Matteo Manassero overcame a disastrous start by shooting a four-under-par 68 to seize the first round clubhouse lead at the weather-disrupted Hero Indian Open on Thursday.

The 23-year-old, who is a four-time winner on the European Tour, double bogeyed his opening hole on 10 at the DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course but fought back superbly with seven birdies against another bogey to seize the early initiative in the US$1.75 million tournament tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Indian Golf Union.

A total of 66 players will return to the course at 7am, Friday to conclude their second rounds following a 90-minute suspension in the afternoon due to the threat of lightning. Amongst them is England’s David Horsey, who stood at five-under through 15 holes and was bogey-free.

Malaysia’s Danny Chia and Angelo Que of the Philippines battled to shoot matching 70s to stay within striking reach of Manassero but early favourite Anirban Lahiri of India, the Asian Tour number one in 2015, required two closing birdies to salvage a 76.

The ultra-challenging DLF course bared its fangs with some holes seeing scores as high as a 12 and a couple of 10s but Manassero, chasing his first win in nearly four years, stayed mostly out of trouble after his opening hole blemish.

The 44-year-old Chia, a double Asian Tour winner, enjoyed a flying start with three opening birdies before going on to pick up more shots on the 14th, second and sixth holes. He dropped a bogey on four and a double bogey on five after finding water with his tee shot, which plays onto an island green.

A three-time winner in Asia but not since 2010, the colourful Que showed his intent of ending his title drought by finishing strongly with three birdies over his closing four holes to stay on the heels of clubhouse leader Manaserro.

Did you know:

  • Manassero is a four-time winner on the European Tour, of which two wins were joint-sanctioned tournaments with the Asian Tour. His two wins in Asia are the 2011 Malaysian Open and 2012 Singapore Open.
  • Manassero became the youngest golfer to win on the European Tour with his maiden title at the 2010 Castello Masters in Spain. He won his biggest career victory yet at the 2013 BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth, becoming the youngest winner of the event.
  • Manassero has played four events this season, with a tied 20th at the Maybank Championship in February being his best finish to date.
  • Que is a three-time winner on the Asian Tour, with his last win being the 2010 Selangor Masters.
  • Que has played in three events this season, with a tied 11th in the SMBC Singapore Open being his best finish. He finished tied fourth in the Hero Indian Open in 2016 and 2013. He was tied 10th in 2012.
  • Que, who birdied three of his four closing holes, is nicknamed the “Human Highlighter” due to his liking to wear bright and luminous golf clothes.
  • Chia opened his first round with three straight birdies from the 10th hole. He shot three more birdies against one double bogey and two bogeys.
  • Chia is a history-maker for Malaysian golf, being the first to play in all four rounds at the British Open in 2010, and the first to win on the Asian Tour when he won the 2002 Taiwan Open. He won his second Asian Tour title at the 2015 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
  • In four tournaments this season, he has made one cut, finishing tied 55th at the Maybank Championship in February.


Matteo Manassero (Ind) – First Round 68 (-4)

You have to always be in play, otherwise there will be a lot of high numbers and a lot of doubles. It’s very easy to lose shots on this course. It was a false start. I just kept playing and had a lot of birdie chances and that was the key after starting with a double.

I made a very good putt on 17th. I think that was important, I was two over at that point after seven holes. Making I would say an 18-footer or something like that, right to left, It brought me to one over. I always feel that the front nine, if you play well, it’s a little bit easier to … it’s more scoreable so I felt like I could have done a good comeback after that. I have been three weeks at home and to come back to a tough course like this, it’s never easy. So the fact that I found a lot of birdies, it’s very, very positive and I’ll try to keep it that way.

Danny Chia (Mas) – First Round 70 (-2)

Pretty happy. I hit a lot of good shots, just made three bad shots which cost me a double bogey and two bogeys. But overall, I’m quite happy with it. I won’t say it was a grind. I hit it solid and just misjudged the wind on some holes. Coming into the week, I’ve not been hitting it all that well, have been hitting a few hooks and one or two came in today for the double (on the fifth hole).

I’m glad I have an idea with what’s going on with my driving. I haven’t been driving it well since Hong Kong last year. Kind of got into a slump. I’m happy that I’ve started to hit it a bit better. You just have to ignore it (course being tough). I hit quite a lot of good shots and got unlucky with some of the bounces on the green and some parts of the greens were pretty firm. It’s the way it is. Everyone is playing the same golf course.

Angelo Que (Phi) – First round 70 (-2)

I’m very satisfied. Played the practice round on Tuesday and I was thinking even par for me every day would be a good score for me on this course. I shot two shots better than my target. Every time I shoot under par here is a bonus. Hit it really good and putted well. It’s tough out there, the winds are a bit swirly and some holes played different than in the practice round. And this is also the first time here for a lot of us. Under par here is really good.

I made three boo-boos. First hole I aimed too far right and had to take an unplayable and made bogey. Next hole I missed the green but made par and on the fifth hole, I three putted. But everything else I’m hitting it quite solid. Three birdies on that side were from two or three feet and a two-putt birdie on eight. I’m just taking it easy as it’s a tough course. You need to be patient and stick to what you do. I’m generally a happy guy. Why can’t you be happy? You’re playing golf, you’re travelling and you’re breathing. I’ve always been happy even when I play bad. There’s nothing you can do. You just accept it and move it. That’s always been my motto in life and in golf. That’s why I’m a happier person.


Scores after round 1 of the Hero Indian Open 2017 being played at the par 72, 7373 Yards DLF GcC course (am – denotes amateur):

68 – Matteo MANASSERO (ITA).

69 – Eddie PEPPERELL (ENG).

70 – Sam WALKER (ENG), Steven TILEY (ENG), Paul PETERSON (USA), Angelo QUE (PHI), Danny CHIA (MAS), Jose-Filipe LIMA (POR).

71 – Terry PILKADARIS (AUS).

72 – Rahil GANGJEE (IND), Gavin GREEN (MAS), Paul DUNNE (IRL), Ricardo GONZALEZ (ARG), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), Nathan KIMSEY (ENG), Rigel FERNANDES (am, IND), Damien PERRIER (FRA).

73 – George COETZEE (RSA), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Shiv KAPUR (IND), Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA), Rafa CABRERA BELLO (ESP), Pep ANGLES (ESP), Gaurav Pratap SINGH (IND), Rashid KHAN (IND), Adilson DA SILVA (BRA), Feroz ALI (IND), Jens FAHRBRING (SWE).

74 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Robert ROCK (ENG), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND), Todd SINNOTT (AUS), Brett RUMFORD (AUS), Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL), Arjun ATWAL (IND), Shamim KHAN (IND), LIANG Wen-chong (CHN), CHAN Shih-chang (TPE).

(Note: 66 players to resume round  one at 7am, Friday)


PHOTO: Matteo Manassero. Image by Getty Images 

- Advertisement -