Good start for Chowrasia, Randhawa in Malaysia

March 6th, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by admin  

Kota Permai (Malaysia), March 6 (IANS) Armed with a new driver and a lot of confidence, Indian golfer S.S.P. Chowrasia finally re-discovered the form that won him his maiden Asian and European Tour title last month with a first card of six-under 66 at the Maybank Malaysian Open Thursday. With the scoring rather low in the morning session, Chowrasia was still four shots off the best from Englishman Nick Dougherty who blasted a solid 10-under-par 62 for the early lead on the first day.

Jyoti Randhawa, on a hot streak with three top-10s in his last three starts, opened with five-under 67, while Jeev Milkha Singh shot a two-under 70. Amandeep Johl shot a four-over 76.

Chowrasia, winner of Indian Masters last month, was pleased to be back in the mix after having missed the cut in his last two appearances. He started on the tenth and slotted birdies on 11th and 12th before a bogey on 13th. He steadied with two more birdies 15th and 18th and turned in three-under. On the front nine of the course, his back nine, he had three more birdies and closed with a 66.

“My driving and my putting was the biggest difference. I was driving it solid and my putting was much better today compared to how it was in my last two events.

“I changed my driver and I’m using my new driver (Callaway FT-5) this week. I’m striking it straight off the tee now, which helped me produce a solid score. I arrived here on Monday and have been working hard on my putting too. So I’m pleased to see the outcome today,” said the Kolkata-born star.

Randhawa, also starting on 10th, parred the first eight holes and then found his first birdie on the 18th. On the second nine, he birdied the first and second, before his first blemish on the third. Three birdies between fifth and eighth ensured another good start for Randhawa, who is aiming to get into the world’s top-50 to make the Masters next month.

Jeev had four birdies and two bogeys in his 70.

Four other Indians - Gaurav Ghei, Arjun Atwal, Shiv Kapur and Rahil Gangjee - are playing in the afternoon session.

Dougherty, with one win and seven top-10 finishes last season in Europe, took advantage of the calm conditions at the Kota Permai Golf and Country club and fired 10 birdies for a two stroke lead over compatriot Simon Dyson and Australian Marcus Fraser.

Daniel Vancsik shot a 65 while Chowrasia and in-form New Zealander Mark Brown, who has won in the last two weeks, posted matching 66 alongside defending champion Peter Hedblom of Sweden in the $2 million Asian Tour and European Tour event.

Starting on the back nine, Dougherty was three under after four holes and was on a roll firing seven straight birdies from the 16th hole under preferred lie ruling. He then parred his way home for his best start on tour.

“It was a great start to the tournament, it’s my lowest round on tour which is always nice, especially on the opening round which sets you up nicely for the tournament.

“I played nice, I played good. I drove the ball well, I putted really well. Iron work wasn’t up to much but the good thing was that my misses were all in the right places and I think that shows how much I have improved in the last few years,” said the leader.

Fraser was pleased to be among the frontrunners thanks to his caddie who helped him chalk up nine birdies against a lone dropped shot.

“My caddie (Guna Suntharaj) was a great help in reading the greens. He has been with me for the past six years for events in Malaysia and we’ve become good friends. He helped me produce a steady game and I hope that we can make it a great week,” said Fraser.

New Zealand’s Brown, who won back-to-back titles on the Asian Tour last week, continued his surging run with seven birdies against a lone bogey today to stay within striking distance of the leader.

“I was thinking about what’s happening in my life and soaking things in. I was also alert not wanting to miss my alarm clock and my mind was just thinking a lot. But I was calm out on course.

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