Honey Baisoya makes a bright start to Hero Indian Open

An imaginative 66 helped Honey Baisoya end the first day, just one shy off Yannik Paul, the leader with a 65 on his card at the DLF Golf & Country Club

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Honey Baisoya - HIO 2023

February 23, 2023: In the morning, it was Honey Baisoya who set the pace with a blistering round that saw him add eight birdies to his card against a double-bogeyed Par-4 14th hole. Playing in the afternoon, Yannik Paul picked up the same number of shots against a bogey on his opening hole.

“It was pretty good,” said Baisoya about his day. “You’re going to miss a few out there. That’s okay. I made eight birdies and a double bogey. Just made one error on the 14th hole. But that’s how DLF is, if you make one bad shot, you’re going to come up with a bogey or even a double.”

“I made some really good putts today too. The highlight of the day would be on the 16th hole. I hit my ball to the left where it hit a tree and came back about 30 yards. And I had about 40 yards to the flag, made the chip and putt. That was very satisfying.”

Yannik Paul - HIO2023
Yannik Paul – HIO2023

A birdie burst over his final four holes gave Germany’s Yannik Paul the clubhouse lead at seven-under-par 65 on the opening day of the US$2 million Hero Indian Open 2023 at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Thursday.

Paul, who finished second at last week’s DP World Tour event in Thailand, overtook local boy Honey Baisoya, who had led for much of the day with his six-under 66 even as fading light forced the final two groups off the course.

Finland’s Mikko Korhonen was another to make a late run at the top, holding sole third place with a solid five-under 67 that included an eagle three on the Par-5 eighth hole. But it was Paul’s four birdies in his closing four holes that really turned things over at the top.

The familiarity with the DLF Golf and Country Club layout paid rich dividends as Baisoya, who confessed he plays the course every day if he is in town.

Shubhankar Sharma - HIO 2023
Shubhankar Sharma – HIO 2023

Shubhankar Sharma was tied fourth with his friend from Chandigrah Angad Cheema and Iceland’s Gudmundur Kristjansson, with the trio shooting 68 each. Marcel Siem of Germany, who is back on the main Tour after getting his rights at the Qualifying School, was sole seventh at 69.

Seven players including another DLF golfer Manu Gandas are tied for eighth at 2-under each. Among them Yuvraj Sandhu will come back in the morning to play his last hole.

The others at tied eighth are Anthony Quayle, Joost Luiten, Santiago Tarrio, M Dharma and MJ Viljoen.

Paul was thrilled with his play and said, “Obviously, I played well today. I knew it’s a challenging course and I just tried to, you know, focus on one shot at a time,” the 28-year-old said after his round.

“And I had, obviously a great finish. I think four birdies in the last four holes. That helps. So, tomorrow’s a new day, just focus on what I can control and see where you end up.”

Paul was one shy of Shubhankar Sharma’s course record of eight-under 64 and his eagle putt on the closing Par-5 18th hole just slid by the pin. Playing in the group just ahead, 2022 PGTI Order of Merit topper Manu Gandas (70) too narrowly missed adding an eagle to his name on the 18th.

Said Sharma of his day, “I’m quite pleased with the round. It was slightly up and down in the beginning. But the back nine is the tougher nine here which is where I started. Sometimes you don’t make too many mistakes, but even good shots don’t get the result and that happened a couple of times with me on the back nine where I made two bogeys, but I was playing well. And I was feeling really good.”

Finland’s Korhonen had an eagle and five birdies against two dropped shots and said he was quite satisfied with his returns. “It was a great day of golf. I mean, to shoot anything under par around here, it’s always good so I’m really happy. My ball striking was really good though the putting is still a little shaky, but getting better.”

Defending champion Stephen Gallacher of Scotland had a day to forget with a five-over 77 that had a double-bogey and a further four dropped shots against two birdies on a day only the top 33 in the field of 120 were able to finish par or better.

Gavin Green, Pablo Larrazabal and Jazz Janewattananond started their campaign with cautious even par rounds.Thorbjorn Olesen, who came into this week with a win in Thailand last week opened with 1-over 73.