Siddikur Rahman opened his title defence at the Hero Indian Open with a six-under-par 65 to share the lead with four players including S.S.P. Chawrasia on Thursday.
The popular Bangladeshi was tied alongside Chawrasia, Richard T. Lee of Canada, Chapchai Nirat of Thailand, the world 72-hole scoring record holder, and Joakim Lagergren of Sweden at the US$1.5 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka, who lost in a three-way play-off to Chawrasia three months, and Kalem Richardson of Australia were a further two shots back at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC).
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and home favourite Anirban Lahiri, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open two weeks ago, carded a 70 and 73 respectively.
Siddikur, a two-time Asian Tour winner, returned to his best form on his favourite hunting ground after missing the cut in his last two appearances.
He relied on his sharp-shooting game at the narrow Delhi course where he has enjoyed great results in the past which include winning the 2013 Hero Indian Open and finishing second twice. The Hero Indian Open was not staged last year.
“I played really good golf and made some long putts. My hitting was perfect so that was good. I always look forward to returning to the Delhi Golf Club. This is my favourite course,” said Siddikur, a member of Team Asia who secured a dramatic 10-10 tie against Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup last year.
“This is a tight and narrow golf course. I’m a very accurate player so I really like playing on this type of layout. You always see me in good positions when I play here,” smiled the 30-year-old.
Chawrasia, who won two of his three Asian Tour titles at DGC, continued his impressive form to stay on track to secure another win at the venue where he recently won in November.
“It looked easy but it wasn’t! My putting was good so that’s the key. This is my National Open and all the Indian golfers enjoy playing in this event. I’m not thinking too much on the course, I’m just enjoying myself,” said Chawrasia.
Lee, who posted two top-five results in his last two events, benefited from watching how playing partner Chawrasia tackled the tricky course.
“It was great to play with SSP because not many guys have played as well as he has here. He has won twice here and I have to say I learned a lot about managing this course by watching him hit certain shots today,” said Lee, the 2013 Asian Tour Rookie of the Year.
Chapchai, who set the world 72-hole scoring record with a stunning 32-under-par 256 winning total at the SAIL Open in India in 2009, birdied the last hole to share the lead and bounce back from a shoulder injury.
“I injured my shoulder in the gym and because I practised too much. I feel better now but it was slightly sore today. I have good memories in India and this week is important because I have a chance to win again,” said Chapchai, a four-time Asian Tour winner.
Lagergren got off to a flying start in his debut at the Hero Indian Open without using a driver. “I didn’t hit a single driver and will not hit one all week because it is such a tight course. I took two months off from golf because I was so busy last year that I needed to rest and have some time off.”
Scores after round 1 of the Hero Indian Open 2015 being played at the par 71, 6923 Yards Delhi Golf Club course (am – denotes amateur):
65 – S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND), Richard T. LEE (CAN), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN), Joakim LAGERGREN (SWE).
67 – Mithun PERERA (SRI), Kalem RICHARDSON (AUS).
68 – Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Scott BARR (AUS), Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), Danny CHIA (MAS), Lionel WEBER (FRA), Mikko KORHONEN (FIN), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA).
69 – Carlos DEL MORAL (ESP), Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG), S. CHIKKARANGAPPA (IND), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), Chiragh KUMAR (IND), Marcus FRASER (AUS), Peter LAWRIE (IRL), Paul PETERSON (USA).
70 – Carlos PIGEM (ESP), Richard MCEVOY (ENG), Arjun ATWAL (IND), Romain WATTEL (FRA), Adrian OTAEGUI (ESP), John HAHN (USA), Marcus BOTH (AUS), John PARRY (ENG), Sujjan SINGH (IND), Bernd RITTHAMMER (GER), Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP), Daniel CHOPRA (SWE), Jake ROOS (RSA), Borja VIRTO ASTUDILLO (ESP), Jason PALMER (ENG), Sam BRAZEL (AUS).