Sandhu sizzles with opening 64 at Panasonic Open India 2017
New Delhi, November 2, 2017: Ajeetesh Sandhu’s brilliant run continued with yet another sizzling round, an eight-under 64, his best card of the year and one of his best ever at the Delhi Golf Club. That round with seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey, gave him sole lead at the end of the first day of the seventh edition of the Panasonic Open India.
It was a scoreboard that had a very heavy Indian look about it. There were 9 Indians in the Top-13. Shiv Kapur, who wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to making known his desire to win a title at the DGC, smiled and promised to ‘play calmly’ and not get too anxious, as he finished the day with three birdies in a row to move to sole second at seven-under 65.
Sandhu is on a tear over the last three months with a T-3 at Take Solutions in Bengaluru, followed by a win in Taiwan and a win on the Japan Challenge Tour.
Kapur, meanwhile, showed that despite illnesses in recent months, he was a man on a mission. Having already scooped his second Asian Tour win this season, 11 years after first one – he did have a couple of European Challenge Tour wins in between – he has been saying that he would love to win once more this season for his new-born daughter Veda.
Sandhu had other reasons to celebrate as he was joined by his parents who arrived last night from Chandigarh. “It is the first time I was meeting them since my wins in Taiwan and Japan. So, there was a lot to talk about.” His father, SPS Sandhu, a big influence on his career, would be thrilled to hear stories about the wins in Taiwan and Japan, as also Thursday’s stunning round.
As for Kapur, he wanted to get back home to be with his three-month old daughter Veda. A day earlier, he said, “It would be great to do well and maybe win. That would be a nice way to welcome her.’
Today he added, “Despite this nice score, I know it just the first day and there is lot of golf to be played. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to going back home and playing with my daughter Veda in the evening. It is so relaxing and wonderful. ”
On his first round showing, leader Sandhu added, “This is just the first round. But I feel really good to be able to shoot such a low score especially on a challenging golf course like this, which can be really tough. I played really well right from the start. That eagle on 14 was a nice one.”
Talking of his sole bogey, he added, “I made the only bogey on the third hole. It was a tough tee shot, which went into the rough and I didn’t have a shot from there. So I had to lay out on the green where I hit it to about 15 feet from where I missed the putt. (As for tomorrow), it’s going to be more of the same for tomorrow. I’m playing well and I’ll take every shot as it comes. It’s always important for me to play well at home as I’ve a lot of supporters this week and it’ll be nice to reward them with something special.”
Kapur said, “It was a good start. I chipped-in for birdie on the second then got a birdie on the fifth. The up and down on the eighth gave me a lot of momentum, taking me to four-under for the day. I then recovered really well for par on the 14th after finding the bushes with my second shot. Finally, the birdies on the last three holes converted a good day into a great one.”
“Every time I’ve been in contention at the DGC, I’ve wanted it too bad and tried a bit too hard. But today I executed the reverse psychology strategy well. Hopefully, I can continue doing the same till the weekend”, he added.
One shot behind Kapur, and two behind Sandhu, were Shamim Khan, a veteran of many a battle on Indian courses, where he has 14 wins overall, and young Aman Raj, who after turning pro last year, has already registered two runner-up finishes. They carded six-under 66 apiece.
SSP Chawrasia, who has won three different Asian Tour events here – the 2008 Emaar-MGF, the 2014 Panasonic Open India and the 2015 Hero Indian Open at the DGC was Tied-5th along with veteran of 18 Asian Tour titles, Thaworn Wiratchant, who also won the 2005 Hero Indian Open here at the challenging DGC. They were both at five-under.
Chawrasia said, “It is always great to play at the DGC. I love this course as my results show. However, I am back playing here after a fairly long time, so it was nice to start with a good solid round.”
Chiragh Kumar, who lives a stone’s throw from DGC and has some stellar results here, including the 2015 Panasonic win, his solitary Asian Tour win, and a Hero Indian Open runner-up finish in 2011, carded four-under 68 that ended with an eagle and a double bogey eighth and ninth as he started the day from tenth.
Tied with Chiragh at seventh were Divyanshu Bajaj, Amardip Malik, Akshay Sharma, Thai Natipong Srithong, England’s Steve Lewton, and veteran Scott Barr of Australia
It was a great day for scoring as 40 players were under par, but defending champion Mukesh Kumar (72) was not one of them.
Other notable scores came from Shubhankar Sharma and Honey Baisoya, 69 each in T-14, Khalin Joshi and Gaganjeet Bhullar, 70 each in Tied-23rd. Young Rashid Khan joined veterans Gaurav Ghei and Jyoti Randhawa at 71 in Tied-31st place. Old guards Daniel Chopra (75) and Arjun Atwal (81) trailed way behind.
Ajeetesh Sandhu Unplugged by Tilak Malaviya presented by THREE SIXTY
Turned Pro: 2008
Coach: Jesse Grewal
Dream Four-ball: Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, my father and self
Most memorable moment on a golf course: Winning my first professional title – DLF Masters 2012. It was really special as I beat Jyoti Randhawa in a play-off
Best shot ever: Hole-in-one at Tata Open 2010
Best round: Nine-under par 62 at Golconda Masters 2016 at Hyderabad Golf Club
Strengths and weaknesses: I am a consistent ball striker. I don’t miss a lot of shots. However, I need to improve my short game
Favourite Actors: Eva Mendes and Al Pacino
Favourite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favourite golf course: India – DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon and RCGC, Kolkata
Toughest golf course: DLF Golf & Country Club, Gurgaon
Favourite golfer: Greg Norman
Favourite sportsperson: Roger Federer
Favourite holiday destination: Bali
Favourite Restaurant: Bukhara, ITC Maurya Sheraton, Delhi
Golf Equipment Sponsor: PING