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Korea's Kim Hyung-Sung in the van

Rakesh Rao

Sanjay Kumar shares second spot

— PHOTO: Sandeep Saxena

FLAWLESS: Korea's Kim Hyung-Sung putted and played with purpose to emerge the leader after the opening day of the Hero Honda Indian Open golf tournament in New Delhi on Thursday.

NEW DELHI: With the creamy layer of Indian golf failing to make the most of the familiar conditions at the Delhi Golf Club course, unheralded Korean Kim Hyung-Sung put his limited skills to optimum use and emerged as the first-day leader of the Hero Honda Indian Open golf championship here on Thursday.

An error-free card of five-under 67 gave the 30-year-old a one-stroke lead over a five-player pack that included Sanjay Kumar, who emerged as the brightest Indian on view in fading light after being part of the group that was last to finish the 18th hole.

Others sharing the second spot are Kim's compatriot Baek Seuk-Hyun, Thailand's Namchok Tantipokakul, Australia's Marcus Both, South Africa's Jbe Kruger and Thailand's Namchok Tantipokakul.

Playing here for the first time, Kim relied on his acknowledged driving skills that gave him the first spot in driving skills last year and second this season.

Good putting

“My putting was very good today,” said Kim who holed three putts from over 10 yards. His aggression paid off on this day as he used the driver on 10 holes. It was indeed a brave effort on a course where staying in the fairway holds paramount importance. It will be interesting to see whether his aggressive tactics pay off over the next three days.

Though 12 Indians broke par, there was very little to excite the home supporters on this day. Sanjay's birdie on the par-three 17th hole — his fifth of the day — separated him from compatriots Shamim Khan, Ashok Kumar and Ranjit Singh.

Sanjay, a caddie since 1987, fired three birdies for a flawless 33 on the outward nine. On his way home, the 39-year-old from Lucknow faltered on the 10th hole but more than made up for the blemish by picking up shots on the 15th and 17th holes.

Among the bigger names, a “rusty” Arjun Atwal (73), Jyoti Randhawa (72), Shiv Kapur (71) and Anirban Lahiri (77) disappointed in varying degrees.

Off-form defending champion C. Muniyappa could only manage an 80 that included a quadruple-bogey on the 15th hole, and was facing the danger of missing the ‘cut'.

Chopra struggles

Meanwhile, struggling for form, Sweden's Daniel Chopra shot a 74 while Ireland's Paul McGinley was better off with a 71. Kapur's putting undid his good iron-play. Even after reaching 16 greens in regulation, he needed around 34 putts. Three birdies against two bogeys left his card looking one among the ordinary efforts of the day.

“Frankly I felt, I played good enough for a six or seven-under today. I missed so many putts for birdies out there, some were short and then at times I was short on confidence,” was Kapur's candid admission.

If Kapur was understandably frustrated on missing several birdie opportunities, Atwal found his 73 as a “good” one.

“I just didn't hit well, I didn't find the greens and I couldn't putt. Still a 73, which is why I say it is good!” said Atwal and explained, “I think it is just off-season rust showing up.”

The scores: Kim Hyung-Sung (Kor) 67; Namchok Tantipokakul (Tha), Baek Seuk-Hyun (Kor), Marcus Both (Aus), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Sanjay Kumar 68; Hwang Inn-Choon (Kor), Shamim Khan, Ashok Kumar, Ranjit Singh 69; Manav Jaini, Richard Karlberg (Swe), Himmat Rai, Chirag Kumar, Mukesh Kumar, Lu Wen-The (Tpe), Ben Fox (USA), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Gaurav Pratap Singh, Pasamet Pogamnerd (Tha) 70; Ali Sher, Firoz Ali, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha), Paul McGinley (Ire), Shiv Kapur, Kim Young-Jin (Kor), Panuwat Muenlek (Tha), Simon Griffiths (Eng), Gavin Flint (Aus), Martin Rominger (Sui), Danny Chia (Mas) and Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 71 .

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