India’s SSP Chawrasia made an ideal start to his bid for a third European Tour victory on home soil by claiming a share of the lead following the first round of the Hero Indian Open.
Chawrasia, who won the Indian Masters in 2008 and Avantha Masters in 2011, carded an opening six-under-par 65 at Delhi Golf Club that was matched by playing partner Richard T Lee from Canada, Thailand's Chipchai Nirat, Sweden's Joakim Lagergren and Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh.
Starting on the back nine, Chawrasia picked up birdies at the 12th, 17th and 18th to reach the turn in 32 before carding further birdies at the first, sixth and eighth in a flawless round.
The 36-year-old from Calcutta has won two events at Delhi Golf Club and said: “We’ve played here many, many times so we know how to play the course; play it straight, straight, putt well and that’s it.”
Lee, a regular on the co-sanctioning Asian Tour who finished fourth in Thailand last week and fifth in Malaysia the week before, also did not drop a shot and carded four birdies on the back nine and two more on the front.
“It’s a challenging course out there, you have to hit your tee shots really well,” Lee said. “I actually like the tight courses with a little wind, it makes me more concentrated on each shot and putt. I definitely like a challenge.”
Five of the last 10 winners at Delhi Golf Club on the Asian Tour did not even carry a driver in their bag at the tight layout and Lagergren revealed he would be doing the same after seven birdies and one bogey in his 65.
“That was a really good score,” Lagergren said. “It’s not easy out there because it is such a tight course so I am very happy that everything worked for me today. I didn’t hit a single driver today 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. It’s going to be a busy week so it was nice to be able to take a break.”
Sri Lanka's Mithun Perera and Australian Kalem Richardson were two shots off the pace after rounds of 67, with England's Matt Fitzpatrick two shots further back after a 69 containing five birdies, one bogey and one double bogey.
Peter Lawrie was the best of the Irish contingent after he made two birdies and no bogeys in a two-under 69 that leaves the Dubliner in a share of 15th position.
Gareth Maybin enjoyed four birdies in his opening round, but five bogeys saw him finish with a one-over 72.
Waterford's Kevin Phelan is a shot further back after a 73, while Damien McGrane signed for a 74.
Maybank Malaysian Open winner and home favourite Anirban Lahiri had to settle for a two-over-par 73, while playing partner Miguel Angel Jimenez returned a 70 the day after missing out on being named European Ryder Cup captain for 2016.
Jimenez carded a hat-trick of birdies on the back nine but also recorded two bogeys, the first coming on the 10th where Lahiri fared even worse with a quadruple-bogey eight.
Lahiri’s approach found an unplayable lie in trees to the right of the green and after dropping under penalty on the adjacent 11th fairway, his fourth shot clipped the same set of trees and came down short of the green, from where he needed four more shots to complete the 421-yard par four.
The 27-year-old, who had birdied his first two holes before a double bogey on the fourth, bounced back with a birdie on the 11th and, after missing a good chance on the next, picked up another shot from close range on the 13th.