India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu finished with back-to-back birdies to get into the top-10 with a score of three-under 67 in the opening round of the season-opening Hong Kong Open golf tournament here on Thursday.
Sandhu, who had a decent season in 2019 with two runner-up finishes on Asian Tour and a win on domestic Indian Tour, is tied-sixth and two shots behind the co-leaders, Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Japan’s Tomoharu Otsuki, who carded five-under-par 65 each.
Shiv Kapur was the next best Indian at two-under 68 and tied-12th alongside Thai Jazz Janewattananond, who won the 2019 Order of Merit.
Two other Indians, Rashid Khan and Jyoti Randhawa turned in sub-par rounds of 69 each to be tied-20th, as was the reigning Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland and Tony Finau at the challenging Par-70 Hong Kong Golf Club.
Of the dozen Indians in the field, five of them, Chiragh Kumar (70), S Chikkarangappa (70), Khalin Joshi (70), Jeev Milkha Singh and SSP Chawrasia shot even par 70 each and were tied-31st. Rahil Gangjee and Aman Raj (71) were tied-49th while Viraj Madappa (72) was tied-68th.
Sandhu with one birdie and one bogey was even par till the 11th, on a course, where the back nine starts on the 11th. He birdied 12th and 13th but then dropped a shot on 16th before closing with 17th and 18th.
Kapur started on the 11th with a bogey and nothing else happened till he reached the third which he birdied. He added birdies on fourth and sixth but dropped a shot on eighth.
Kapur, making his 15th start in Hong Kong in 16 years as a pro, said, “Today was a tough day, you know the this was probably the toughest conditions I have played on this golf course of all the years that I’ve been here. It was windy and cold and it was hard to pick where it’s coming from.
“The wind was changing direction and you know in the trees it bounces around, so I think that was the main challenge. I got off to a slow start and then nothing happened for my first 10 or 11 holes and then made three birdies in the space of four holes and managed to hang on.”
Ormsby, a winner in 2017, made six birdies against one bogey. Ormsby’s two Asian Tour wins came at the Panasonic Open India and the Hong Kong Open in 2017.