18 October 2018: Intermittent showers only served to raise the heat at the DLF Golf & Country Club. On a muggy day in Gurugram, Thai star Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras scored an impressive bogey-free 68 to take an early lead at the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2018. Indian golfers too enjoyed a relatively productive day, lead by a battling 71 from Gaurika Bishnoi.
The 20-year-old from Roiet, made her first birdie at the par-5 eighth hole. The third-year LPGA professional chipped to about six feet, before dropping the putt. She added birdies at the 11th & 12th holes, sinking the ball from around 15 feet to continue her impressive run. She moved to four under with a simple tap-in birdie at the final hole.
“This course is pretty tough, so you have to stick to the plan and stay patient. You need to hit the fairways and greens and hit the right part of the green and try to make two putts. Par is good enough for the course,” said Pannarat.
Silvia Banon from Spain shot three birdies in her score of 70. Indian golfer Gaurika Bishnoi, Germany’s Olivia Cowan, England’s Eleanor Givens and Yupaporn Kawinpakorn from Thailand shot 71.
Bishnoi barely had a dull moment in her adventurous round of golf, at a course very familiar to her. The local girl plays at DLF regularly and used her intimate knowledge of the course to her advantage.
Even though her game wasn’t completely dialled in, Bishnoi fought hard to negate the ill effects of the five bogeys on her card. The 20-year-old put together six birdies, including four on the challenging back nine, to come home in a 71.
Luck had a tole to play too. At the treacherous 17th, Gaurika made a miscalculation with yardage. Playing her wedge longer than needed, she pulled the shot left. The ball ricocheted off a wall of boulders to the left, flew to a large stone on the right before finding its way back to the green. That dramatic ball rested just five feet from the pin and Bishnoi pocketed a birdie with glee.
“That was extremely lucky. I just heard the ball hit the rocks and I thought it might be somewhere on the green but then my brother goes, it’s like five feet! I think it was pretty lucky, that hole for me, otherwise, I could have slipped down but I made a birdie and well here I am, one-under!”
“Even before the tournament started, I had a good feeling and I prepared well in the practise rounds. My brother was walking with me, and he’s smart, so he made me smart, and I think that’s another reason why I felt more confident on the first tee.
“I teed up this year to win, so that’s what I’m looking at!”
Amateur golfer Pranavi Urs was also making a positive start. She was two under through eight holes, after starting on the 10th hole. But she suffered some quick losses to move into over par territory.
Tvesa Malik and Ridhima Dilawari were holding steady at one under midway through their rounds. Afshan Fatima and Sifat Sagoo were even par with six holes to play to complete their first round.
Maria Skarpnoord was three under through 15 holes.