Chowrasia best Indian at Manila, Lahiri struggles on first day

Manila: Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, Anirban Lahiri endured a frustrating opening day to card a three-over 75 even as SSP Chowrasia emerged as the best-placed Indian at tied 10th after the first round of the ICTSI Philippine Open here today.

Chowrasia, a two-time winner of co-sanctioned events with Europe, turned in a one-under 71, while Lahiri’s troubled day ended at the 56th place.

Among other Indians in fray, Manav Jaini (73) was tied 29th, while Abhijit Chadha, Sujjan Singh and Angad Cheema were tied 56th with Lahiri.

Himmat Rai (77) and Abhinav Lohan (78) were struggling further down, while Amardip Malik (79) and Digvijay Singh (80) were certain to miss the cut.

Chowrasia said, “I have been starting well, hitting well, but somehow I have not managed to finish tournaments properly. I have had two top-five finishes and was 11th at Singapore, but I feel some good results are just around the corner.”

Meanwhile, Lahiri needing to get into inside top-60 of the world within a fortnight – he is right now 64th – had a tough time.

“It was a frustrating round. I don’t think I played horribly. I just made some poor decisions and struggled on the greens. The greens are a bit grainier than what we’ve played on this year,” said Lahiri.

“I double bogeyed the eighth hole but it wasn’t only about that hole. I misjudged the wind there and hit it to about five yards too far. I hit it to the worst possible place because you can’t hit your ball past the flag.”

He added, “I missed a bunch of putts inside six feet and you can’t do that to have a good score. I don’t think I’m out of the tournament yet. It is a tough course and if you can play consistently then you can get decent score. I honestly don’t think I’m out of the tournament.”

Lahiri needs a win this week to give himself a chance to break into the top-60 in the world by May 26th to qualify for the US Open in June.

Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman fired his best score at the challenging Wack Wack Golf and Country Club to share the honours with Chan Kim at six-under-par 66.

Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to play and win on the Asian Tour, birdied the last hole from five feet to cap his best effort on the Wack Wack course where his previous low round was a 71 at the 2011 Philippine Open.

Little known Rolando Marabe, a former caddy who turned professional in 1997, led the local charge after shooting a 69 to tie with four-time Asian Tour winner Chawalit Plaphol in third place.

EurAsia Cup star Prayad Marksaeng, Korea’s Park Byung-joo, Michael Tran of Vietnam, Settee Prakongvech of Thailand and Australia’s Marcus Both were a further four shots off the leaders in joint fifth.

Siddikur, who was part of Team Asia who tied with Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup earlier this year, was delighted to rediscover his deft putting touch as he negotiated the tricky Wack Wack greens in 26 putts.

It was a welcome return to form for the popular Bangladeshi, who uncharacteristically missed the cut in his last two Asian Tour events.

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