Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa a stroke behind leaders

March 13th, 2008 - 8:35 pm ICT by admin  

Jeju Island (South Korea), March 13 (IANS) Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa were off to brilliant starts to be in a pack of ten golfers who all are a stroke behind leaders Finland’s Mikko Iionen and Australian Tony Carolan who both had a 5-under 67s after the first round of the inaugural Ballantine’s Championship here. The Indian duo carded 68 at the Pinx Golf Club and so did Hwang Inn-choon of Korea, Shingo Katayama of Japan, Graeme Mcdowell of Northern Ireland, Scott Hend od Australia, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Paul Mcginley of Ireland, Anthony Kim of USA and Simon Griffiths of England.

A field of 132 players is in the fray in the $2.9 million tournament jointly sanctioned by the European and Asian tours and the Korean PGA.

Jeev overcame a bout of flu and the effects of a freak accident last week to score birdies on the 10th, 11th and 13th holes. He then dropped a double bogey on the 18th and made the turn at one under.

Jeev started his front nine with three consecutive birdies on the first, second and third. His only blemish on the front nine was the bogey on the seventh. The former Asia no. 1 picked up another stroke when he closed with a birdie on the ninth.

Randhawa did not have a great start as he dropped a double bogey on the second. But he then fought back with birdies on the fourth, eighth, 10th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes.

Gaurav Ghei fired an even par 72 with seven pars and birdies on the seventh and ninth to produce a solid front nine, but he dropped back on the back nine with bogeys on the 14th and 15th.

Shiv Kapur had a two over 74 as he sank birdies on the ninth and 13th and bogeyed the seventh, 10th, 15th and 16th.

Asian Tour regular, Carolan enjoyed a blemish free round that was highlighted by five birdies setting up the possibility of winning his first Asian Tour title.

Meanwhile, 28-year-old Ilonen also got off to a quick start with two birdies in his first three holes to remain in contention for his third career title.

Carolan had his new driver and three-wood to thank for giving him a good start at this week’s US$2.9 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korean PGA.

“I’ve put a new driver and three-wood in the bag this week, and I’m quite happy with them. There’s a lot of holes out here where I can hit my three-wood 250 and leave myself a solid eight or nine-iron to the greens,” said Carolan.

However, it was not particularly an easy day for the 39-year-old, as he had to deal with giving his caddie a sack too.

“He was just terrible! I’m paying him US$160 and he was moving and jiggling with the clubs while I was putting. He also had soft spikes on, so he wasn’t allowed on the greens. After I went par, birdie, birdie, I sacked him,” said Carolan.

The story of the day, however, belonged to Singh as he demonstrated the strength of the human spirit to triumph above everything else, overcoming the trauma and pain of a freak buggy accident during a pro-am tournament in Kuala Lumpur last week.

“We saw the tree and I told my caddie to brake but instead of braking, he pressed the accelerator and we hit it head on. I went flying through the windscreen, hit my head and lucky the windscreen was plastic and not glass, if not I wouldn’t know what would have happened,” recalled Singh, who is also nursing the effects of a bout of flu.

“I had a little bit of concussion as I fell out of the buggy and I haven’t been feeling too good after that,” added Singh.

Leading first round scores

67 - Mikko Ilonen (FIN); Tony Carolan (AUS)
68 - Hwang Inn-choon (KOR); Shingo Katayama (JPN); Jeev Milkha Singh (IND); Graeme Mcdowell (NIR); Scott Hend (AUS); Prayad Marksaeng (THA); Paul Mcginley (IRL); Anthony Kim (USA); Jyoti Randhawa (IND); Simon Griffiths (ENG)
69 - Jun Tae-hyun (KOR); Thaworn Wiratchant (THA); Carlos Rodiles (ESP);Johan Edfors (SWE); Garry Houston (WAL); Raphael Jacquelin (FRA); Francesco Molinari (ITA); Adam Blyth (AUS); David Griffiths (ENG); David Frost (RSA); Kim Hyung-Tae (KOR)

Selected scores
70 - Chris Dimarco (USA)
71 - Padraig Harrington (IRL); Choi Kyung-yu (KOR)

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