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Thai Itthipat takes lead at Panasonic Open on curtailed day

Sports Lounge Staff

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Gurugram: Four Indian players led by Shiv Kapur were three shots behind clubhouse leader Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat on the first day of the ninth edition of the $400,000 Panasonic Open India.

The 26-year-old Itthipat took advantage of his short nap while waiting for play to begin by firing an opening round eight-under-par 64, with seven birdies and an eagle against one bogey during his eight-under 64.

Itthipat’s 64 was followed by a 66 from Indonesian Danny Masrin, who like the leader, is looking for his maiden pro title on the Asian Tour. Kapur was tied-third at 64 alongside three Indians Arjun Prasad, M Dharma and Shankar Das and Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao.

The trio of American Ben Geyer, Sri Lankan veteran Anura Rohana and Singaporean Jesse Yap, rounded off the Top-10 with cards of 68 each.

Another young Indian Aadil Bedi was among the nine players with three-under 69 each. Also at 69 was Viraj Madappa.

As for the ‘Big Three’, Atwal won the ‘first day’ with a round of 69 as Jeev Milkha Singh shot two-under 70 and Jyoti Randhawa marked his 300th Asian Tour appearance with an even par 72.

Three of the four Indians at Tied-third, Kapur, Das and Dharma were bogey free. Dharma missed a hole-in-one by inches as the ball bounced off the hole and stopped two feet beyond for a birdie. Prasad had one bogey and six birdies.

Kapur said, “It was good to come with a bogey free round but I missed scoring opportunities on Par-5s and managed just one birdie in four Par-5s. So that was a chance wasted.”

On the delay and the start from the middle of the course, Kapur added, “I have never started from the 15th in a tournament. (Waiting for long) was obviously unnerving, but don’t think it’s the first time this has happened. Have played golf enough to know this can happen, like the Singapore Open where you do a lot of sitting around or the Maybank when there is a lot of waiting during the rain delays so it’s kind of similar.”

Itthipat, who turned pro in 2014, has won three times on Asian Development Tour, including once this season, and is looking for his first win on Asian Tour.

The score was still short of the course of record of 62, shot three times in 2009 SAIL Open – twice by Chapchai Nirat and once by Anirban Lahiri.

Itthipat started from the sixth tee as the tournament committee decided on a 4-Tee start following a four hour ten minute delay due to a fog cover bringing down the visibility at the Classic Golf and Country Club.

Only 60 players scheduled for the morning wave played their round, while in the afternoon, 66 players will play.

The tournament committee decided to split the first round over two days with starts at 11 am from four different tees, first, sixth, tenth and fifteenth.

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