17 August, 2017: India’s Rahil Gangjee posted a solid round despite suffering a two-shot penalty on his first hole 10 after arriving late on the tee. The 38-year-old Gangjee was disappointed for mixing up his tee times but made up for it by nailing four birdies and a closing eagle against a bogey. Daniel Pearce drove to the top of the leaderboard with a 66, ahead of Ben Campbell and Daniel Valente, who shot 67.
Gangjee signed for an eventual 69 to tie in eighth place alongside a host of players, which included one-time Asian Tour winner Wade Ormsby of Australia, in the A$1.5 million (approximately US$1.14 million) event.
New Zealander Ben Campbell and Daniel Valente of Australia posted matching 67s to share second place at the event which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian, European and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia for the first time.
Australian Peter Cooke provided the day’s highlight when he struck a hole-in-one on the par-three 15 with a sand wedge from 149 yards. He signed for a 71 to trail by five shots in tied-24th place.
- This is the first time Gangjee was late for his tee time since joining the play-for-pay ranks in 2001.
- Gangjee won his first and only Asian Tour title in 2004.
Daniel Pearce (NZL) – First Round 66 (-6)
I holed a really nice putt on the first hole for birdie which got the momentum in the right direction. I managed to birdie the 11th hole as well and made a couple of good up and downs through the back nine to save par. I birdied 17 and then had a bit of a run through the front nine, the first four holes. It was just a lot of good golf.
It was quite breezy when we first started but I think the win definitely eased as the round went on. It got a little easier but the putter was pretty hot today. I rolled in a lot of putts from all over the place which was nice.
Gavin Green (Mas) – First Round 68 (-4)
It’s a good course but if the wind blows, it’s a beast. I hit a lot of one-irons off the tee today. I hit my one-iron to about 250 or 260. I am able to knock it down especially in the wind. I hit my driver only four times, including the 17th hole where I eagled today.
On the short par-three 15th hole, I hit a good wedge shot pin high right to about 10 or 15 feet and made the birdie putt. The birdie on the 16th hole was a weird one. There was a lot of trouble around so I played it really shot. I hit five-iron off the tee and a six-iron for my second shot to about 10 feet again.
I had a great momentum before making the turn. I came back with nine straight pars but it’s alright. I had a couple of big saves. If you tell me I will shoot a 68 here before the round, I will gladly take it, given the windy conditions here. I am definitely very pleased with how I played today.
Rahil Gangjee (Ind) – First Round 69 (-3)
It was windy out there but I was prepared for it. I just stayed patient and I managed to hit some good shots out there today. I was waiting for my birdie chances but it’s so windy out there you can’t really force it. You just have to let it come to you. I guess I was patient enough so it came.
I had a good finish with a chip-in eagle on my last hole ninth. I hit my third shot with a lob wedge over the bunker for about 25 to 40 yards. That was the highlight for me. I really wanted to finish like that! I got confused with my tee time for the first time in my career even though I remember looking at it properly. It was a lesson learnt.
Scores after round 1 of the Fiji International being played at the par 72, 6575 Metres Natadola Bay CGC course (am – denotes amateur):
66 – Daniel Pearce (NZL).
67 – Ben Campbell (NZL), Daniel Valente (AUS).
68 – Gavin Green (MAS), Adam Bland (AUS), David McKenzie (AUS), Peter Wilson (AUS).
69 – Jason Norris (AUS), Michael Sim (AUS), Austin Connelly (CAN), Dale Brandt-Richards (AUS), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Rahil Gangjee (IND).
Asian Tour Release