The seasoned Jyoti Randhawa and PGTI legend Mukesh Kumar turned in identical cards of five-under 67 to be in joint lead at the halfway stage on the fog-hit opening day of the Panasonic Open here.
A four-hour delay meant that the likes of Arjun Atwal could not finish their first round that will be completed tomorrow. The Orlando-based golfer has played five holes thus far and is at even par.
Only 59 out of 120 players could finish their first round of 18 holes.
Another Indian veteran Jeev Milkha Singh endured a poor day in office hitting a three-over 75 and is in danger of missing the cut.
Last year’s winner Chirag Kumar hit 71 and is there among the top 10 after only half of the field completed the round.
The day belonged to two players with different mindset — Randhawa, who has gone through a phase where he lacked motivation to compete and is now aiming to regain his mojo, and a 51-year-old Mukesh, hailed as the “King of Indian Courses”.
Mukesh is aiming for 125 PGTI tour titles. He has 123 to his credit.
Randhawa played some a brilliant golf in the back-nine where he birdied the 16th, 17th and 18th hole. He had a 30-foot putt in the 16th hole and chip in second shot in the 17th. In the 18th hole, he picked up a tap-in birdie with his third shot one foot from the pin.
The only poor hole he had was the 12th where he got a bogey due to a bad tee shot.
Mukesh had seven birdies in all — 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 8th in the front-nine and 14th, 16th and 18th in the back-nine. He had two bogeys in the 6th and 12th.
His longest putt was a 15-foot one in the third hole.
Due to the dew, the course had become a bit slow and players needed to use their long games.
Both Mukesh and Jyoti didn’t use drivers as the complexity of the closed course meant that straight hitting was a necessity.
When Jyoti was asked when was the last time he hit five under at DGC, he said: “I don’t remember. May be long time back. Yes, I had lost motivation after losing my European PGA Tour card but when I was at home I realised that I had missed the game I love the most.
“My passion was back. Also I realised that I was not good at anything else but golf. If I am not playing golf, I don’t have enough qualification to do something else,” Jyoti was honest as he spoke to a couple of mediapersons after his round.
For Mukesh, playing at DGC is like playing at home.
“It feels like any other tournament when I play at Delhi Golf Club. Although motivation is there because it’s an Asian PGA Tour event. Today, I had a good long game but I need more confidence in my short game. The left to right putting needs to improve. I had hit a few in the bushes but the birdies helped me. Also the delayed start was a factor,” said Mukesh.
Title-holder Chiragh endured a frustrating day in the office, sinking three birdies against two bogeys. He returned with a 71 to stay four shots off the pace