Mixed bag for India, Ghei best at eighth in Volvo Masters

December 18th, 2008 - 8:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Dec 18 (IANS) It was a mixed bag for the Indian contingent at the end of the first day of the season-ending $750,000 Volvo Masters of Asia Thursday. Gaurav Ghei, three-times winner on the Asian Tour, survived a three-putt from inside on the closing hole to be the only Indian to stay inside the top-10 while others . Ghei was four behind Australian Neven Basic (66), who only last week secured one of the last places in top-65 for the card and a place in Volvo Masters.

Shiv Kapur, champion here in 2005, went twice into the water and lost three balls on the par-5 seventh hole, but still managed three other birdies to card a one-under 71. That was the same as S.S.P. Chowrasia, who is also placed 14th. Two of India’s brightest youngsters, Gaganjeet Bhullar, who last week confirmed his 2009 Tour card, and 17-year-old amateur star, Rashid Khan, shot 72 each to be tied 22nd.

But Jeev Milkha Singh, the star of Asia this season, was in an unfamiliar position with a birdie-less 76 that tied him at 65. That also meant he would be the first to tee off Friday morning.

“That’s a bit unfamiliar,” remarked Jeev. “I was just not there. I could not putt and only towards the end I seemed to see the lines.” He had three bogies between the third and sixth — on third, fourth and sixth — and another on 15th.

Jyoti Randhawa, a former winner of Volvo Masters in 2004, shot 73 in tied 41st place, while his brother-in-law Digvijay Singh carded 75 in 56th place. India’s other amateur, Rahul Bakshi, winner of Under-18 Faldo Series world final, carded 76, same as Jeev and was tied 65th.

“That three-putt was a shame. It seemed to be a fine day till the 17th, when I was three-under and then this bogey set me back. Still I happy with the way I am playing. The wind was not much but changing,” said Ghei.

Kapur, who admitted he keeps six balls in his bag, started thinking about borrowing some, as he twice hit water on fourth. “In between another ball while taking a drop rolled into the water. I played 17 and a half holes of great golf and with three birdies and one bad hole. I was 173 yards from the pin and in slight rough and I found water,” he said.

Basic snatched the first round lead with a bogey-free card at the Thai Country Club to open a two-shot lead over Chinese Taipei’s Lin Wen-tang and Adam Blyth of Australia.

Lin, one of this season’s success stories with two wins, and Blyth shot bogey-free 68s while Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing, runner-up in Cambodia last weekend, was amongst those lying a further shot back.

Australians Marcus Both and Tony Carolan and South African veteran Hendrik Buhrmann also shot 69s to lie three off the pace.

Basic endured a nervous wait after missing the halfway cut in last week’s Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open as he was in 65th place on the Order of Merit, which was the cut-off mark to qualify for the Volvo Masters of Asia and more importantly earn full playing rights for 2009.

Fortunately for Basic, his rivals failed to overhaul him on the rankings.

Lin, 51st in the world, has two goals this week - win the Volvo Masters of Asia and claim a place in the world’s top-50 which will come with a prized ticket to the US Masters next April.

Blyth is enjoying his career best season where he is 16th on the rankings. With father Stephen on the bag, he launched his title assault with four birdies, although he was disappointed not to have birdied any of the par fives.

Singaporean Lam making his Volvo Masters debut extended his recent run of good form with a roller-coaster 69, which included seven birdies and four bogeys.

Thai star Thongchai Jaidee’s bid for an unprecedented third straight victory got off to a sluggish start as he carded a 73 while title holder Prayad Marksaeng was one shot higher to end the day in tied 46th place in the elite 68-man field.

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