Smriti, fifth overall, best Indian at DLF Women’s Golf

March 26th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by admin  

Gurgaon, March 26 (IANS) The lone Ladies Professional Golfers Association (LPGA) star in the field, Smriti Mehra took the hot conditions and the occasional breeze in her stride to bring home a one-over 73 on the opening day of the $120,000 DLF Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club here Wednesday. Smriti, who has a conditional card on the LPGA this year, was four shots behind Thai teenager Phatlum Pornanong, who shot a two-under 70 on a day when there were just three sub-par rounds and one even par.

Smriti had two bogeys on the back nine after starting from the tenth and then had her only birdie on the sixth.

Despite a bogey on the closing hole on the 18th, Phatlum went one clear of her nearest rivals, amateur Lidya Ivana Jaya, the 2008 Indonesia Amateur champion, and Ladies European player, Jenni Kuosa of Finland who had a birdie-birdie finish for one-under 71 each.

Smriti, who was tied fifth in a bunch of six players, maintained the Indian interest.

Lying fourth was Shih Huei-Ju of Chinese Taipei, who after a nightmarish start of four-over after five holes, stole the limelight with a hole-in-one on the par-3 171-yard eighth hole. That ace resurrected her round as she birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th to move two-under. But a late bogey on 17th, which was playing very tough Wednesday, saw her finish at 71.

Shih Huei-Ju struck an 8-iron to perfection for the first hole-in-one of the tournament. She becomes the first claimant to the Rs.50,000 prize put up by Sudhir Gensets. In the event of any more aces, the money will be shared or else Shih will get the full amount.

The jovial and chirpy Smriti starting on the back nine, bogeyed the 11th and 14th and her sole birdie came on sixth.

“I am looking forward to a ‘Chak de’ round of Golf tomorrow. I was not happy with my putting today and am looking to improve tomorrow,” said Smriti.

“I was comfortable with the course and the weather and thoroughly enjoyed my home Open.”

The leader Phatlum said, “I had a decent round and I loved the course. I found it to my liking. On the last, I hit a bad approach and bogeyed the hole, but still I am happy with the round.”

Tied with Smriti, in the bunch at fifth, was another promising Thai player Chutichai Porani, World Cupper Wang Chun of China, Nontaya Srisawang of Thailand, Japanese LPGA player Yuki Sakurai and Korean Kang Yeo Jin.

Bangalore amateur Sharmila Nicollet, who was going great guns at two-under through 13 holes, faded away at the end. She found a bogey on 12th and then a heart-breaking triple bogey on the par-5 14th. She finished a double bogey on 17th and another bogey on 18th to finish with a seven-over 79.

India’s other big hope, Irina Brar, had a tough time with a four-over 76 and was tied 21st. Tied at the same spot was Kiran Matharu of England and one shot behind them was India’s young US-based amateur Tanya Wadhwa in tied 26th at five-over 77.

Phatlum, 19, and entertaining hopes of joining big guns on the European and LPGA Tours in the coming years, carried on the good work begun at the Thailand Ladies Open, where she stunned a classy field to win the season-opener in February.

On the 18th tee, she was three-under and looked set for a handy lead, when she missed the fairway and then messed up the approach shot. It saw her close with a disappointing bogey as she dropped back to two-under 70.

The field of 62 includes 11 amateurs and the cut will come after two rounds with top-50 and ties making the third and final round Friday.

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