Bhullar opens with superb 66 to be top Indian in Taiwan

Taipei City, Sep 21 (PTI) India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar opened his campaign at the Yeangder TPC golf with three birdies on the first three holes and ended with four more birdies against one bogey for a solid 6-under 66 in the first round here on Thursday.

Bhullar is a part winner here, having tasted success in 2012. His 66 saw him tied with seven others in eighth position.

Thailand’s Natipong Srithong posted a classy bogey-free nine-under-par 63 to take the lead.

Another Indian, Karandeep Kochhar, had a great start with 5-under 67 to be tied 16th, while S Chikkarangappa and Veer Ahlawat with 68 each were tied 31st in the low scoring first round. Preferred lies were played on an extremely hot but calm day.

Khalin Joshi and Yuvraj Sandhu shot 69 each to be T-49, as Rashid Khan and Ajeetesh Sandhu were T-60 and on the cutline. Kartik Sharma (71) was T-75, Honey Baisoya (72) was T-93, Jeev Milkha Singh and Rahil Gangjee with 73 each were T-110 and Viraj Madappa (74) was T-126.

Bhullar, starting on the 10th opened with three birdies in a row and then followed that with six pars to turn in 3-under. He had birdies on first, third, fourth and eighth and a bogey on sixth on his second nine for 66.

Kochhar also started on the back nine and had just one birdie on 10th and then eight pars. Like Bhullar he had an action-filled back nine. He birdied first, third, fourth, sixth and ninth and his sole bogey of the day came on the second.

Both Chikka and Ahlawat had an eagle each in their 68. They had four other birdies and two bogeys each.

Natipong Srithong had nine birdies, including four in a row from the 12th, to lie ahead of Sweden’s Bjorn Hellgren with a 64.

Defending champion Travis Smyth from Australia returned a 65, along with Kosuke Hamamoto and Chapchai Nirat from Thailand, Chinese Taipei amateur Su Ching-hung, and Hong Kong’s Matthew Cheung.

Natipong has won once before on the Asian Tour, at the 2015 Resorts World Manila Masters, which was only his fourth event on the Asian Tour.

Hellgren, tied third here last season, eagled the first and 10th holes, made five birdies, and dropped one shot.