Gurugram: Nine Indians, including defending champion Khalin Joshi and in-form Rashid Khan, fired a matching five-under 67 to share the fifth spot with two others at the smog-hit Panasonic Open India, which was reduced to a three-day affair on Friday.
The first round of the Panasonic Open India resumed at 11am with players, who were scheduled for the afternoon rounds on the opening day, beginning their challenge at the Classic Golf and Country Club here.
Joshi and Rashid along with Karandeep Kochhar, Kshitij Naveed Kaul and Vikrant Chopra joined Shiv Kapur, Arjun Das, M Dharma and Shankar Das at tied fifth.
Hung Chien-yao of Chinese Taipei and Wang Wei-Lun are the non-Indians in the group tied at fifth.
The presence of nine Indians in Top-15 increases the chances of an Indian winner for the eighth time in nine years of Panasonic Open India.
At the top, Thailand's Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who shot a sizzling eight-under 64 on Thursday, continued to held on to the lead.
Indonesia's Danny Masrin, sole second on Thursday, was joined by Australian veteran Terry Pilkadaris, a three-time winner on Asian Tour, and Myanmar's Ye Htet Aung, an Asian Tour Qualifying School graduate who also plays on the Asian Development Tour.
With weather forced delayed starts on Thursday and Friday, the Asian Tour reduced the event to 54 holes and the cut will now fall after 36 holes.
Joshi, who earned his maiden Asian Tour event at Panasonic Open India last year, had a good day in office.
Starting from the first, Joshi had seven birdies against two bogeys on ninth and eleventh, but he finished birdie-birdie.
"I'm not really happy with my round, to be honest. I just played five holes well and the rest of it was mostly scrambling. I'm happy with my score but I have a lot more to do as far as my long-game so I am headed straight to the range immediately.
"I'm defending my crown at a course where I've done well in the past with a title under my belt. So I'm quite confident. It was nice to finish with birdies on the last two holes."
Seasoned Rashid, who was second at the Asian Tour's Classic Golf and Country Championship at the same course in September, said, "I played solid and missed just one green today. I was four-under through nine holes and had a good chance of going low but then I had my only bad hole of the day, the second, where I misjudged the wind and landed my tee shot in the bunker which resulted in the only bogey of the day.
"The bogey put a break on my progress. Even though I had two more birdies with long putts, I lost the rhythm on the back-nine."
Meanwhile, Htet Aung fired his career's best round of six-under-par 66. He got off to a blistering start with four birdies in his first five holes. He then mixed his card with a bogey on the par-four fourth and another three birdies on holes eighteen, two and seven.
Pilkadaris rediscovered his magic touch with his putter as he made just 27 putts to return with a 66 to also stay close to the Thai leader.
The second round will begin on Saturday with all 126 players being paired on the basis of their first round scores.
The second round will also see a 4-Tee start from first, sixth, tenth and fifteenth tees with the morning wave going out at 7 am and the afternoon wave taking off at 11.40 am.
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2019 19:55:19 IST