Gaganjeet Bhullar (in pic) claimed a two-shot lead at the Indonesia Open after carding seven-under-par 64 in the first round on Thursday. The Indian golfer had won his first Asian Tour title in Indonesia in 2009.
The Asian Tour star, who is playing in his 10th straight event, held an edge over a chasing pack comprising other leading Asians after shooting a immaculate round laced with seven birdies at the USD 750,000 Asian Tour meet.
Other Indians in the fray Sujjan Singh was tied for 8th spot after a first round of 4-under 67. Jyoti Randhawa is tied 22nd after a 2-under 69. Abhinav Lohan is tied for 30th after one-under 70, Anirban Lahiri is tied 43rd after an even par 71. Fancied Shiv Kapur and SSP Chowrasia had an off day and lay at tied 59th with a one-over 72 in round one. Himmat Rai, Chiragh Kumar and Rahil Gangjee disappointed on Day 1, lying 78th, 95th and 107th, respectively.
Playing in Indonesia has brought out the best in Bhullar, who missed only one fairway and was equally dominant on the greens where he made 27 putts. Ranked sixth on the Order of Merit, Bhullar burst into the sole lead when he sank five straight birdies from the fourth hole.
"The way I've been striking the ball from the first tee, I knew I could go low because my striking was right up there. Once my putts started falling, that's when I went really low," said the four-time Asian Tour winner after the day's play.
Bhullar says that he is ready to make amends after finishing last among the elite 60-man field at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, Australia last week.
"Mentally I know that I always try to win every tournament I play in. I didn't play bad at all last week. It was just a matter of a few bad bounces. I wasn't upset with my performance because I was hitting the ball good. It is only a matter of time before my short game improved and it happened today," said Bhullar.
Young guns Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand and Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, who finished tied fifth in the Philippines two weeks ago, continued to shine as they stayed two shots back from Bhullar.
The duo is tied for second alongside Americans Anthony Kang and Berry Henson, Korean Mo Joong-kyung and Malaysia's Shaaban Hussin at the Pantai Indah Kapuk course at Damai Indah Golf.
Thai star Thongchai Jaidee, a three-time Order of Merit winner, was a further shot back at tied eighth, while two-time Major champion Retief Goosen of South Africa struggled to a 72 for tied 59th.
Jazz, who celebrated his 18th birthday four days ago, continued his encouraging form and was motivated by the splendid performance by his playing partner Bhullar.
"Playing in the same group as Gaganjeet helped me because he motivated me to play well. My result in Manila has given me a lot of confidence coming into this week," said Jazz, who carded six birdies against one bogey.
Kang, a three-time Asian Tour winner but not since 2009, stayed in touch with the leader after battling to a round of six birdies and one bogey.
"I find the course to be very difficult so I'm very happy with my round. There have been a few hits and misses but overall, my game is in shape. I've made five consecutive cuts so hopefully I can continue to play well," said Kang.
The 39th edition of Indonesia's national championship, which has a rich and illustrious history dating back to its first edition in 1974, is the nation's oldest golf tournament.