Kobe :India's rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar was the only player to enjoy a bogey-free opening round of four-under 67 to share the lead at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open on Friday.
The 21-year-old Indian produced four birdies at the challenging par-71 Rokko Kokusai Golf Club's East course to share the lead with Korean SK Ho and Japan's Shintaro Kai and Kazuhiko Hosokawa.
However, SSP Chowrasia (71) and Anirban Lahiri (74) could not make a strong start to the USD 1.7 million event and were tied 31 and 61 respectively.
India Open winner C Muniyappa was also tied 61 after carding an identical 74 on a day of tough scoring in the event which is co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour and Asian Tour.
Title holder Daisuke Maruyama and Australia's Marcus Fraser, who is second on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, were amongst in the chasing pack with 68s.
Japan's number one Ryo Ishikawa carded 69 which included six birdies while current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Noh Seung-yul of Korea returned a 70 in the event, which was reduced to 54-holes after Thursday's cancellation due to poor weather.
Being the only man in the 132-man field to be blemish-free put a big smile on Bhullar's face. His card included a brilliant run of three birdies on the trot from his third hole of the day (12 to 14 hole).
"It was quite a satisfying round because the layout is pretty tough, especially the rough. I stroked the ball really well and kept everything on the fairway. I just played sensibly and consistent golf," said Bhullar.
Starting from the 10th, he picked up three straight shots from the 12th hole, thanks to some solid attacking play.
"I was a bit aggressive on those holes. I hit some brave shots," he said.
"With 54 holes, it changes things a bit. At the end of the day, you still have to play well, whether it's 72 holes or 108 holes. Saturday will be very important. I'm playing early on Saturday, so let's see what happens."