Thailand’s Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras shot a bogey-free four-under-par 68 in hot and humid conditions to take a two stroke clubhouse lead in the Hero Women’s Indian Open this morning.
The 20-year-old from Roiet, who is a third-year professional on the LPGA Tour, carded four birdies on the Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram, near New Delhi.
The 2016 Thailand Ladies Masters champion made her first birdie at the par-5 eighth hole, where she chipped to six feet and made the putt and then rolled in further birdie putts from 15 feet at the 11th and 12th holes, before virtually tapping in on the closing par-5 18th hole.
After playing her first round, on her tournament debut, she said: “This course is pretty tough, so you have to stick to the plan and stay patient. You need to hit the fairways and greens and hit the right part of the green and try to make two putts. Par is good enough for the course.”
Spanish pro Silvia Bañon, (below, right), who came close to grabbing her maiden victory in the NSW Open earlier this year before finishing second, gave herself a good start with a two-under-par 70.
The second-year LET member said: “I think consistency is the key for this course. I finished with two birdies on six and seven as my iron shots were pretty close to the green and I holed a few putts for par to save me so I’m really happy with my game.
“I was relaxed and excited too, to come here for the first time, as they gave me an invitation. This country is amazing and I was very excited to play here.
“You have to think about every shot twice, because the course is very difficult, but my aim is to enjoy it, because it’s a beautiful but tough course.”
Four further players from the morning wave shot under par and sit on 71: Indian Gaurika Bishnoi, Germany’s Olivia Cowan, England’s Eleanor Givens and Yupaporn Kawinpakorn from Thailand.
Local player Bishnoi, 20, from Gurugram, (above), who is playing on her home course, played the luckiest shot of the day with her approach to the treacherous 17th green.
Her ball ricocheted off a wall of boulders to the left and then deflected from a large stone on the right side of the green, before rolling five feet past the flag and she then made the birdie putt to get to one-under-par.
The economics student, who won a domestic WGAI tournament at DLF G&CC a month ago, said afterwards: “That was extremely lucky. I just heard the ball hit the rocks and I thought it might be somewhere on the green but then my brother goes, it’s like five feet! I think it was pretty lucky, that hole for me, otherwise I could have slipped down but I made a birdie and well here I am, one-under!”
Bishnoi added that she was feeling quite confident. “Even before the tournament started, I had a good feeling and I prepared well in the practise rounds. My brother was walking with me, and he’s smart, so he made me smart, and I think that’s another reason why I felt more confident on the first tee.
“I teed up this year to win, so that’s what I’m looking at!”
Most of the morning players were in the clubhouse before a rain shower passed through at midday.
Givens played her last hole in the rain and said afterwards: “It was a bit of a strange round but I’m really pleased with it. I holed three really long putts early on in my round and one medium length one later on, so I’m very pleased with it. It’s my fourth year here playing this golf course and my first round under par. On pretty much every shot you feel like there’s danger and so you’ve got to be really accurate and really strong mentally. It’s important to believe in yourself.”
Play continues in hot and hazy conditions, with temperatures in the mid 30s.