Perera grabs one-shot lead, Chirag tied 2nd at Panasonic Open
Sri Lankan golfer Mithun Perera raised hopes of his maiden Asian Tour title as he produced a sensational six-under 66 on the opening day to grab the lead at the USD 400,000 Panasonic Open India here on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Perera, who suffered a heartbreak in the last edition after losing in a three-way play-off, came up with seven birdies and one bogey to open up a one-stroke lead over India’s Chirag Kumar and Sattaya Supupramai of Thailand, who missed a five-foot birdie on the last hole here.
India’s Abhijit Chadha carded 68 to hold a share of the fourth spot alongwith Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman, Sri Lanka’s N Thangaraja and Thai duo of Thaworn Wiratchant, a two-time Asian Tour number one, and Thitiphun Chuayprakong.
Among other Indians in fray, S Chikka, Shankar Das, Jyoti Randhawa and Khalin Joshi were tied ninth alongwith four other golfers.
‘Keep the driver in the bag’ is generally the norm at the Delhi Golf Course but Perera defied that advice, using the driver 11 times during the day as he was off the block with two opening birdies and then enjoyed a late flourish with birdies on four of the last five holes.
“I birdied the first two holes, they were like two gimmie birdies. That gave me a lot of confidence. I kept the ball in play and that’s the key to a good score here,” said Perera, who holed 24 putts.
“Most of the birdie putts were approx 10 feet. The 18th was 15 footer but 15th was longest, it was 20-25 feet.
“I made 11 drive shots and my accuracy helped me to stay away from trouble. I have never won in Asian Tour. I did well at DGC. Hopefully it will be my first victory. I want to keep the momentum in the next three days.”
Chirag, who secured his Asian Tour card by finishing second at the Venetian Macau Open three weeks ago, blasted as many as four birdies in the front nine and added two more on the back nine with the only blot being the ninth hole bogey.
“I got off to a good start with three birdies on a row and that gave me momentum. I played really well. I made good putts. It was nice to finish up with a 10-foot birdie. The second hole birdie was the longest, a 35-40 footer,” he said.
“Everything was good day. I just want to play the same way on Friday,” he added.