New Delhi: Bangladesh golfer, Siddikur Rahman renewed his love-affair with the Delhi Golf Club, even as he tries to regain his lost form and earn an Asian Tour card for 2019. The 33-year-old, who has been having a rough season because of a recurring back injury, shot a flawless five-under 67, that places him in a three-way tie for second place with India's Ajeetesh Sandhu and Tapy Ghai.
Defending champion Shiv Kapur (70) was lying T-16th with 16 others in a big crowd.
Siddikur, who has an incredible 12 Top-10s in 15 starts at the DGC since 2010, showed that he is ready for his second win at the DGC, five years after he won the Hero Indian Open.
Panasonic Open India, which has been won six times by Indians in seven stagings, seemed headed on a similar path, as Sandhu and young 22-year-old Ghai shared the lead with Siddikur. Just then 20-year-old Thai, Suradit Yongcharoenchai, looking for his first Asian Tour win, holed three birdies in last five holes to grab the sole lead. Suradit, a 10th tee starter, who was 5th last week in Pakistan, had seven birdies against one sole bogey.
Indians still had fair representation in the upper rows of the leaderboard as two-time Asian Tour winner and local DGC star Rashid Khan (68) and young 22-year-old Veer Ahlawat, playing his third season, were Tied-5th alongside the Thai duo Jazz Janewattananond and Peradol Panyathanasedh. Jeev Milkha Singh was both a surprise and welcome entrant in the group at Tied-9th at 3-under 69, alongside two other Indians, 19-year-old Karandeep Kochhar and DGC golfer Kapil Kumar.
Jeev said, "The fact that my tournament is coming up next week and seeing so many bright youngsters is inspiring me," said Jeev with a huge smile. "I felt good and hopefully I can carry on like this."
Leader Suradit said, "I played really good today. I feel very good with my game. I hit a lot of fairways. My tee shots were very good today and that was the key to play well here. I played my irons very well too and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities.
"Obviously, I am riding on my good form as well. I finished tied-fifth in Pakistan two weeks ago and was joint runner-up when I last played in India two months ago. I haven't changed my routine much so I will keep doing what I have been doing."
Few players, including Indians, who have grown up at the DGC, have had such a phenomenal record at this venerated course. Siddikur, who started coming to the DGC in the early years of this century, says his best moment was winning the All India Amateurs at the DGC in 2004 when he beat AS Lehal in the final. The love affair with DGC did not abate.
Between 2010 and 2015, at the DGC alone Siddikur has four Top-10 finishes each in the Hero Indian Open, the SAIL-SBI Open (now no longer held) and the Panasonic Open India. One-third of his career Top-10 finishes have come at this one single course.
He smiles and says, "DGC is without a doubt my favourite course and I have such great memories of it. Those memories and the fact that I have decided not to put any pressure on myself, despite a not-too-good season helped me today."
Ghai, who last week won his first pro title on the PGTI's domestic Tour in Kensville Open in Ahmedabad, commented, "When you score seven birdies it's always a good round. All the aspects of my game were in good shape today."
He added, "I've drawn a lot of confidence from my first professional win which was achieved on the PGTI earlier this month in Ahmedabad. That win has helped me break some mental barriers. As a junior, I've played a lot of golf at the DGC at it was my home course at the time before I moved to Gurgaon. I'm quite familiar with the DGC."
Matching Siddikur and Ghai's 67 was Ajeetesh Sandhu, one of the seven players, who were Tied-2nd last year behind Shiv Kapur. Sandhu said, "I hit two good shots on the 13th and made a 10-footer for birdie there. The 14th hole was the toughest hole that I birdied today. I hit a great chip for eagle on the 18th but it somehow slipped out. But I'll take it. I'm happy with the birdie on the last.
"It was pretty warm out there. There was no wind so it was pretty easy. The greens are a bit slow so you got to be aggressive with your shots. If you miss on the wrong side of the greens, you miss another chance."
Updated Date: Oct 25, 2018 19:49 PM