The newly opened Black Knight Course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon showed its teeth on Friday morning, when one over par, recorded by five players from as many countries, was the best score.
Playing in scorching heat and temperatures of around 30C, Becky Morgan (Wales), Malene Jorgensen (Denmark), Ursula Wikstrom (Finland), Katie Burnett (USA) and Nontaya Srisawang (Thailand) set the target.
Morgan, who played to a conservative game plan, said: “I’m very happy. I got off to a very good start and birdied one and three, so I was two under. I didn’t make any more birdies and made three bogeys but I was very steady and I hit 14 greens. I just two putted and went on to the next so it was very consistent.
“It’s very tough. It’s very up and down and it’s quite tight off the tee. The greens are very undulating and firm so it’s hard to get it close to the hole. I thought at the beginning of the week even par would be a pretty good score, just because it’s so tough to get it close so I am really happy with one over par today.”
Srisawang, who lost to Laura Davies in a play-off on the previous DLF course in 2010, was equally patient and strategic. She said: “It’s pretty tricky, from tee to green and on the greens. A couple of holes are fun, like 17. I prefer to play this like a par 5. If I made bogey, I felt like I had a par. I hit 5-wood on the tee shot and 54 on the second shot. My ball just hit on the back of the green and I made two putts, so I’m happy with that.
“The last six holes are pretty tough, very narrow from hole number 14 and you have to hit a good tee shot. I made a bogey there and had a bogey on 17 and 18 because on the last hole I hit the wrong spot on the green. I had to think three-putt, on this course, if you miss the wrong spot on the green.”
Jorgensen, who is paying her first visit to India, was delighted with her score and said: “I’m very happy with my plus one today. I had a bogey on the last hole, but I’ve struggled a lot with my swing this week.
“The greens, it’s tough to get close to the pin because they are so hilly with a lot of slopes. All the places you have to be with your driver, it’s very narrow. There are some short holes out there but it’s very tough to hit it to the right place. I think the back nine is pretty tough but the front nine is alright, it’s pretty normal. 17 is hard and the drive on 11 is not my favourite, but numbers one and four are really good holes.”
Local star Sharmila Nicollet opened with a six over par 78 but remained upbeat sitting five shots off the pace. “Today I tried my best but I missed more shots than I could get back. I hit some good putts so I’m going to take some positives out. I’ve a lot to do tomorrow and I’ll try to do better.”
Despite a gentle breeze picking up, several players were making good progress in the afternoon, notably Giulia Sergas. The Italian was the only player sub par on two under through 12 holes. She played the back nine first, in one under par 32.