Two-time European tour winner, SSP Chowrasia on Thursday, launched his bid to win the Hero Indian Open on a resounding note as he fired a blemish-free six-under 65 to share the lead after the opening day of the tri-sanctioned event here.
The 36-year-old, who has finished second twice in the Indian Open, picked up six birdies to share the lead with Richard Lee (Canada), Chapchai Nirat (Thailand), Siddikur Rahman and Joakim Lagergren (Sweden) at the tricky Delhi Golf Course (DGC) here.
"I played very well and was bogey free. I made some good putts and was hitting it good off the tees. It looked easy but it wasn't! My putting was good so that's the key," Chowrasia told reporters after his round.
"I've played here many times so I know how to play in this course. I used all my experience today. Richard (T Lee) was playing well as well so it was fun to play with him.
"This is my National Open and all the Indian golfers enjoy playing in this event. I'm not thinking too much about the course, I'm just enjoying myself," said Chowrasia, who won his first European tour title after clinching the inaugural Indian Masters in February, 2008.
A 10th tee starter, Chowrasia sank birdies at the 12th, 17th and 18th holes to reach the turn in 32 before picking up further birdies at the first, sixth and eighth in a flawless round.
"All my family and friends are here so that's nice. The winning score will be about 20-under. I'm playing well and I have good memories here," he said.
Talking about the wind, he said: "It wasn't very windy in the morning so that made things easier. The wind started to pick up after a few holes but I'm used to playing in these conditions."
Also known as "Chipputtsia", Chowrasia is the only Indian inside the top 10.
Among others, S Chikkarangappa, Shubhankar Sharma and Chirag Kumar brought home a card of two-under to finish the day on the 15th spot.
Top ranked Indian Anirban Lahiri, who won the Maybank Malaysian Open a fortnight ago, had a forgetful day as he returned with two-over, courtesy four strokes lost in the seventh and two shots at fourth hole. He also birdied on first, second, eighth, 11th and 13th holes and a bogey at ninth.
Spanish legend Miguel Angel Jimenez was one-under for the day alongwith 1999 winner Arjun Atwal, while Jeev Milkha Singh was one-over and Shiv Kapur and Manav Jaini were at two-over. Three-time champion Jyoti Randhawa was three-over.
Canadian Lee, a regular on the co-sanctioned Asian Tour who finished fourth in Thailand last week and fifth in Malaysia the week before, also turned in a flawless card with four birdies on the back nine and two more on the front.
"It's a really challenging course out there so to finish the day with six birdies and no bogeys is some pretty good golf. You have to hit the right shots at the right times and I managed to make a few putts too," Lee said.
"I have played here for the last two years though, so I definitely knew what to expect from this golf course. It was great to play with SSP today because not many guys have played as well as he has here. He has won twice here and I have to say I learned a lot about managing this course by watching him hit certain shots today."