Hero Indian Open 2018 – Day 1 – Sandhu Holds Aloft Indian Tricolour

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Argentinian Emiliano Grillo Equals Course Record To Take Clubhouse Lead

Ajeetesh Sandhu

Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu held the Indian flag aloft in challenging conditions at the DLF Golf & Country Club in Gurgaon, to remain within three strokes of the runaway leader Emiliano Grillo of Argentina after the opening round of the Hero Indian Open.

Sandhu, who posted his breakthrough victory on the Asian Tour last year at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship, carded a solid 4-under 68 to finish as the highest-placed Indian on Thursday.

With the likes of defending champion SSP Chawrasia (2-over 74), World No. 80 Anirban Lahiri (even par 72), only PGA Tour winner from India – Arjun Atwal (71) – and Khalin Joshi (72) way behind the leading pack, Sandhu proved his mettle with precision play, hitting 17 greens in regulation.

Indian amateur Kshitij Naveed Kaul posted 2-under par in 17 holes to keep himself in the mix along side Bengaluru’s Udayan Mane (through 16 holes).

The 29-year-old Sandhu later admitted that it was a dream round for him especially after receiving applause from compatriot and golfing stalwart Jeev Milkha Singh.

“I could say today’s round was almost a dream round. My hitting was just amazing. I hit all fairways and made regulation on 17 out of 18 greens. We were a little lucky that the wind wasn’t up today otherwise this course can pose many more challenges,” Sandhu told Golf Digest later.

“I just missed a few putts out there but that wasn’t due to bad putting. There were a few lip-outs… Just 18 holes have completed and a lot of golf is still to be played. I’ll have to keep my thoughts in check since this golf course can come back and bite you at any moment. It’s a course that you can’t overpower. So, the effort will be to continue in the same manner over the next three days by trying to find maximum fairways and greens.”

Playing with Jeev also helped diffuse pressure off Sandhu.

“I was very comfortable playing with Jeev as I’ve played a lot of golf with him in Chandigarh. I must admit that there was a little pressure at the start as this is my National Open, but Jeev’s presence in the same group helped calm me down,” Sandhu said.

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