Indian golfers shine at Panasonic Open

New Delhi: The Indian trio of Khalin Joshi, Rashid Khan and Shamim Khan fired opening round scores of five-under-67 on the second day to join compatriots Jyoti Randhawa and Mukesh Kumar at the top of the leaderboard at the Panasonic Open India golf tournament here on Friday.

There was more good news for Indian fans as 20-year-old Shubhankar Sharma was sitting at a total of five-under through 12 holes of round two when play was suspended on Friday due to fading light.

He trailed Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond by two shots. Jazz had completed 14 holes of round two when play was halted.

After causing a four hour delay on Thursday, fog again played spoilsport on Friday leading to a three hour delay in start of play. As a result of the inclement weather and major delays, the tournament has been reduced to a 54-hole tournament comprising of three stipulated rounds.

Out of a total of 114 players, only six could complete round two on Friday. The rest will resume play on Saturday. The third round will only commence on Sunday morning.

Joshi, looking to seal his Asian Tour card with a top finish this week, mixed eight birdies with three bogeys to close round one in pole position.

The 24-year-old Bengalurean enjoyed a great start with a chip-in birdie on his opening 10th hole.

“I hit most of the fairways which is the key on this golf course. I holed a few long putts but I missed a few short ones today. I missed a few putts yesterday so I thought the suspension helped a bit. I got some practice after that and I am happy to come back today and put myself in the lead.

“I am just very excited right now. I need to play well this week to keep my Asian Tour card and I have put myself in a good position right now. I just need to stay focused,” he said after his round.

“I like this course but I have not played well in this tournament for the past few years. I am feeling good with where I stand. The game’s been feeling good. I just need to cap four good rounds.”

Two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid, playing at his home course, shot a flawless 67 which featured three birdie putts from 15 to 20 feet.

“I’m happy with a bogey-free round. I wasn’t thinking much out there. I know this course very well. I just find it a little difficult to read the greens today. It feels kind of different today. The greens are usually faster than this.

“I will try and keep things the same heading into the next two rounds. The season hasn’t been ideal for me. I have had a lot of injuries, including the bike accident a few months back,” Rashid said.

“I still haven’t found my best game yet so I am really looking for one this week. I just need one good round.”

The 38-year-old Shamim, who won on the PGTI last week, continued his hot streak at his home course with a bogey-free 67 which included a birdie putt each from 20 feet and 35 feet.

Meanwhile, Jazz was on seven-under-par through 14 holes in the second round when play was halted on Friday.

Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka continued his love affair with the Delhi Golf Club after firing one eagle and two birdies against a bogey to trail Jazz by two shots with six holes to play.

Placed 112th on the latest Asian Tour Order of Merit, Perera needs a victory this week to secure his full playing rights for the 2017 season before heading into the season finale in Hong Kong next week.