Petaling Jaya, Selangor (Malaysia): Indian star Anirban Lahiri enjoyed a birdie binge en route to a seven-under-par 64 for a two-shot lead after the first round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Thursday. The 27-year-old Lahiri, currently second on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit, sank 10 birdies against three bogeys at the Seri Selangor Golf Club to put himself in prime position for a second win of the season.
Countryman S.S.P. Chowrasia carded a 66 to share second place with Chinese Taipei's Chan Yih-shin while another Chinese Taipei player, Hung Chien-yao carded a 67 for fourth place in the USD 410,000 Asian Tour event.
Malaysia's Shaaban Hussin emerged as the best home player, firing a 68 to share fifth position with amongst others Australian rookie Cameron Smith, Thailand's Sattaya Supupramai and Chapchai Nirat and American Berry Henson.
An in-form Lahiri, who finished tied fourth in Taipei last weekend and was runner-up here last season, was delighted with his blistering start.
"I'm really happy with how I played. I got off to a good start and made a couple of good putts. It could have been even better. I missed some short putts but I hit it really good," said Lahiri, who is a four-time Tour winner.
"I have a lot of positive energy coming into this week, having finished second here last year. It tells you that you can do it. I've figured out how to play on this golf course so it helps when you've played here a few times."
Playing alongside current Merit leader David Lipsky, who carded a 72, the talented Indian only missed three fairways and three greens as he had to negotiate swirling winds in the afternoon session.
"The wind started and stopped, started and stopped but I'm really happy. I missed a few shots but I made a few so I have no complains. It is nice when you have that confidence. I'll keep my head down and keep moving in the right direction," he said.
Chowrasia, a two-time Asian Tour winner, enjoyed a sparkling outward 30 with five birdies before coming home with two more birdies against two bogeys. "I started very well but struggled a bit on the back nine. This is a short but very tricky course. You always have to place the ball in the right spots," said Chowrasia, who is currently 10th on the Order of Merit.
"I've been working on every aspect of my game and I think the hard work is starting to show results."
Chan, who lost his Tour card with a poor season in 2013 where he missed 10 cuts in 19 starts, was delighted with lowest opening round since winning the 2011 Venetian Macau Open. He credited a hot putter for propelling him onto the leaderboard.
Local hope Shaaban, who played alongside Lahiri and Lipsky, made the most of his home course knowledge, firing successive eagles on the fifth and sixth holes. "Making those two eagles was unbelievable but on the next hole, I pulled my tee shot and then made double! I was trying to go for a third straight eagle" said Shaaban, who was in contention at the event in 2009 before settling for joint 11th place.
(With inputs from the Asian Tour)