Jeev continues his habit of great starts

July 4th, 2008 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Ash, Kent (London), July 4 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh continuing his chase for a place in the British Open opened with yet another superb four-under 68 that gave him a tied fifth place at the end of the first round of the European Open Thursday. Jeev, who missed out on the qualifying berth for the British Open at the qualifier at Sunningdale is now left with the only chance by finishing in top-5 either here or next week at the Scottish Open. Jeev found only four of the 14 fairways, but he putted very well and needed just 25 for the day. “I was not too good off the tees, but found enough greens in regulation and I putted very well. The key is to keep this going now,” said Jeev, who has shot 68 or under in the first round in 11 of the 18 starts this season on European Tour. This year he has gone over par in the first round only three times.

Even as Jeev shot a 68, Ross Fisher, the 27-year-old Englishman who three days ago finished joint third in The Open Championship qualifier, closed with six successive birdies to record a spectacular nine under par 63 and lower the London Golf Club course record set by Seve Ballesteros in 1984. Fisher led the field by two strokes as Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and South African David Frost shot 65 each. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy shot five under par 67 to lie in fourth place.

However, Jeev’s great start was not matched by any of his three Indian colleagues who all struggled and will need brilliant rounds to make the weekend cut. Jyoti Randhawa shot two-over 74 in 89th place, while Shiv Kapur was four-over 76 in 123rd and S.S.P. Chowrasia ballooned to 11-over 83 and lay 155th.

Jeev, playing with his new sponsor Panceltica’s name splashed on his bag, started early and was lying second after the morning session. With five British Open starts on offer for top five finishers not otherwise exempt, there is a lot to play for other than money.

Jeev started on the tenth and had three birdies on the 12th, 15th and 16th in his first seven holes. He then hit a mid-round blip which saw him drop bogeys on 17th and first, but again a great finish with birdies on three of the last five holes on fifth, eighth and ninth saw him end the day at four-under, where he was tied with a bunch of seven others.

The lead was held by Fisher who closed with a dream run of six birdies in a row on his last six holes for a nine-under 63 that put him five clear of his nearest rivals in morning session. He had earlier started with two birdies on tenth and 11th and added two more on 15th and 16th. His lone mistake was the bogey on 17th.

Fisher had earlier played the British Open qualifier on Monday and made the grade and did not get a practice round here, but still shot a nine-under 63. One of his drives actually crossed 400 yards, so well did he drive and putt on Thursday.

Another Irishman Paul McGinley was six under with two to play, but followed a bogey on the short 17th with a drive into the water for a closing double bogey six and a 69. It left him tied for 12th on the leaderboard. Playing partner Justin Rose shot the same, while Darren Clarke returned a 71 like Sergio Garcia.

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