Jeev shares early lead at BMW Asian Open golf

April 24th, 2008 - 4:52 pm ICT by admin  

Shanghai, April 24 (IANS) India’s Jeev Milkha Singh had a great day with the putter even if his hitting was somewhat off-colour as he opened the BMW Asian Open golf tournament with a four-under-par 68 to share the early joint first round lead here Thursday. Jeev, the 2006 Asian Tour number one, needed only 23 putts at Tomson Shanghai Pudong Golf Club here to share the early honours with Henrik Stenson of Sweden, England’s Oliver Wilson and Mikko Ilonen of Finland.

Australian Scott Hend shrugged off a late double bogey en route to a 69 to find himself one off the pace in the $2.3 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and China Golf Association.

Among other Indians on view in the morning session, S.S.P. Chowrasia, winner of the Emaar-MGF Indian Masters, shot an even-par 72, while Digvijay Singh carded two-over 74 and Amandeep Johl shot 78. Shiv Kapur, Jyoti Randhawa, Gaurav Ghei and Rahil Gangjee were still on the course.

Jeev, fresh from his best Major finish at the Masters Tournament in US two weeks ago where he finished tied 25th, struggled to find the mark with his ball striking after taking last week off but made up with an outstanding putting display.

“I didn’t hit the ball good today but my putting was excellent. Last week was an off week and I didn’t practice much and it showed up today. However, I would prefer good putting to ball striking on any day. It’s a good feeling when you can get the ball into the hole,” said Jeev.

This season, the Indian star has finished runners-up in Indonesia and Korea and believes he has a chance of securing Asia’s first victory in the BMW Asian Open, which was inaugurated in 2001.

“I love this golf course. You’ve got to have strong management and I did that today. You have to drive it well here and I have been driving it well. That’s why I was comfortable,” he said.

While delighted with his Masters experience, Jeev said he needed to adjust quickly to the speed of the greens at the 7,326 yard par-72 Tomson course here. “Yesterday, I putted a lot as I was trying to get the speed in my hands. I felt the greens were slow compared to Augusta,” he said.

World number 13 Stenson lived up to his top billing with a six-birdie round, giving him a chance of redemption following a play-off loss at the 2006 BMW Asian Open.

Starting from the 10th, he got out from the blocks with four birdies over his opening seven holes before three putting the par-three 17th.

“I played really solid in the beginning and then made a bad three putt. Then I finished well with two good putts and two birdies after that. I’m happy with the way I played today,” said Stenson.

Veteran Zhang Lianwei enjoyed a solid opening 70 to lead the local charge in the event which has attracted former world number one Greg Norman of Australia and two-time Major winner Retief Goosen.

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