March 16, 2023: A confident and injury-free Rashid Khan climbed into tied second place on the opening day of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard with a flawless five-under-par 67 at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday. Siddikur Rahman, who has one of the finest records at the Delhi Golf Club, continued his love affair with the iconic course as he fired a bogey-free seven-under 65 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the USD 750,000 The DGC Open presented by Mastercard.
Siddikur was trailed by a trio that included two-time Asian Tour winner Rashid Khan, the defending champion Nitithorn Thippong and Filipino Justin Quiban, who all shot 67 each. Like Siddikur, Rashid’s effort was also bogey-free.
Familiarity with the DGC as a venue was the common thread between the top four, as three of them had won their maiden Asian Tour title at this venue.
Khan, two shots behind first-day leader Siddikur Rehman of Bangladesh (65), was at the head of a train of Indians including the in-form Chikkarangappa S. (4-under 68) and domestic tour rookie Varun Chopra (68) inside the top 24 on a day where 40 players finished under par.
Last year’s champion Nitithorn Thippong of Thailand had won with a four-day total of seven under par, which was equalled on the very first day of the 2023 event by Siddikur.
Rashid said, “A couple of the tournaments I played this year, it wasn’t great the way I started. And you know like two-under was my best card.”
“I’ve been working on some aspects of my game with (former pro) Ashok Kumar, and it’s really paying off. It’s always great to go bogey-free in a round as those dropped shots do play on the mind and today was just the round that my confidence needed.
“Getting off the golf course without making any bogey means a lot. I don’t mind having three birdies and 15 pars any day. I mean that’s something which gives you confidence,
He added, “Making eight birdies and four bogeys you know you lose shots and somewhere in the mind you will be like, Oh, I shouldn’t have dropped that shot over there. You know I could have saved that shot so I have nothing in my mind that you. I had five birdies shot five under. I know I can sleep well.
“I had a back injury sometime around November and was really scared to hit my shots. I had to change my swing a little and I mean it (the injury) is there but I’m working on something which I really wanted and Ashok showed me the path.
Holding their own in what is being reckoned as one of the strongest fields at an Asian Tour event in India were two amateurs, Yuvraj Singh of Kapurthala and Delhi Golf Club’s very own Pratap Atwal.
While Yuvraj was in a three-way tie for 11th place on three-under 69 with six birdies and three bogeys, Atwal was a shot behind in shared 15th on a solid 70 that included five birdies against three dropped shots.
A third amateur, Shaurya Bhattacharya was in a share of 24th on a one-under 71.
The US-born Chopra, in his first year on the domestic tour, had six birdies on his outbound nine that was dented somewhat on in way back to the clubhouse by two dropped shots.
“I got off to a bogey on the first hole at 10. And honestly, I rebounded really well on that nine with six birdies in the next eight holes, so that was awesome,” Chopra said.
“That kick started a good day. I would have liked to play better on the second nine, but overall got a good score and a good start.”
One shot away was Mhow golfer Om Prakash Chouhan in tied 11th on 69 with four birdies and one bogey while Veer Ahlawat and Ranjit Singh were tied for 15th on two-under 70s.
“My round today was a really good one and I was very happy with my putting in particular,” Chouhan recalled. “I had four birdies and just one bogey for a three-under total.
“I’m quite familiar with this course and have played it many times and it is in really top condition. The greens are a little hard but the roll is very even so putts can be managed quite well.”
Karandeep Kochhar, Honey Baisoya, Abhijit Chadha, Sachin Baisoya and Aryan Roopa Anand were in the 17-strong group bunched in tied 24th place.
Six others – Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia, DGC pro Shamim Khan, Abhinav Lohan, Yashas Chandra, Angad Cheema and Akshay Sharma – were on level par 72 and tied for 41st place.