Rest and reflection fuel Julian Suri on ancestral turf; Rashid Khan and SSP Chawrasia impress at Hero Indian Open

Julian Suri produced a second straight 67 to take firm control of the Hero Indian Open. Rashid Khan and Shubhankar Sharma at lying T19

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Julian Suri shares opening round lead with Stephen Gallacher on day one of Hero Indian Open

29 March 2019: When athletic pubalgia forced Julian Suri off the European Tour last year, all he could do was watch his colleagues play the game from the comfort of his home. It was painful for the young golfer to miss out on the Race to Dubai event, a big ticket week for the elite. Despite qualifying for the event for the second year running, he had no choice but to sit out as he prepared for surgery to address the sports hernia that caused him pain and limited his mobility.

As he lay at home recuperating and watching his fellow professionals conduct their business, Suri reconnected with his own self and a keen desire to not just get back on the course but also the drive to do so with success.

It is this energy that is helping Suri forge ahead at this week’s Hero Indian Open. Born of an Indian father and a Mexican mother, Suri considers India home away from home. With family and friends lining the course for him, Suri is keen to do well. He has done just that over the first two days, firing scores of 67 in each of the first two rounds to gain an ironclad grip over the halfway lead at the 55th Hero Indian Open.

“I put the foot down, but I had the same mindset I had really on the first nine. I hit it really well the whole day and I just tried to free it up a little bit on the second nine with my putting. I hit a lot of good shots and gave myself a ton of chances on the first nine and none of them dropped, particularly with speed and not hitting them hard enough. So, just try to free it up and putt with feel like I normally do,” said Suri.

“I am hitting quite a few drivers. Driver is probably the most comfortable club in the bag for me so I am being pretty aggressive and with the greens being somewhat softer than what they were last year, I am coming into the greens with a lot of wedges and pitch shots and stuff, so you can score when you are in a good spot.

“I’ve been playing well, and I knew I was playing well even though the score didn’t show it after the first nine, so just had to keep plugging away and staying patient.

“The food is a big thing for me, I enjoy Indian food and always have, and having my dad here staying in the hotel we are eating pretty much every meal together which is really cool.”

At 10-under 134, Suri leads George Coetzee (66) and Robert Karlsson (68); and three ahead of Callum Shinkwin, who made a brilliant 65 and Scott Hend, who is doing a great job riding the wave of success from the Maybank Championship. George Coetzee and Robert Karlsson also worked their way into T2.

“It is a brutal golf course, it really is tough. It doesn’t let up from tee to green, basically from the first tee to the 18th green, you have your work cut out. Today I managed to succeed today let’s say, and sort of beat the golf course today,” said Shinkwin.

“I got the wedding out of the way, I got married so I can relax now. The golf has been good, even at Q-School last year and finishing the season last year, the golf was there, I just wasn’t getting the results. I’ve found some form now, just waiting on the results to come in which will hopefully start happening.

“It’s not easy. You have to give the golf course a lot of respect everywhere. Off the tee, into the green and on the greens. Even today, it wasn’t that easy. I had one three putt for par and I don’t think I missed a green today which helps.”

SSP Chawrasia rediscovers his magic at just the right time

Chawrasia was tottering on the brink of a missed cut as he approached the tee box on the par-5 eighth at 5-over. A good tee shot was followed by an even more brilliant approach. As he tapped it in for an eagle, hopes soared for a Houdini like escape into the weekend. The genial Indian accomplished just that as he made a valuable birdie at the ninth hole to secure his presence for the weekend.

“As we reached the eighth, we really had no hopes left for the weekend. I just wanted to play well before going out,” exclaimed Chawrasia. “The eagle there gave us a new life and I played well at the ninth to secure the weekend.”

Anirban Lahiri could find no such luck as the jet-lagged Indian slipped out of the event despite a hard-fought 71 in the second round. The 191st ranked golfer left himself too much to do after opening with a 77 on Thursday. Om Prakash Chouhan made a hole-in-one on the 190-yard par-3 fifth hole, but the 18th continues to be his waterloo. Amazingly, the champion PGTI golfer missed the weekend yet again due to struggles at the 36th hole.

Even through 17 holes and comfortably inside the cut line, OP stumbled out of the event with a disastrous quadruple bogey nine at the 18th hole, getting the ball in the water three times.

Gaganjeet Bhullar suffered a 74 in the second round, but an even par 72 earlier meant that he shall remain in the field inside the good edge of the knife at T60, alongside Chawrasia and Gaurav Pratap Singh.

Shubhankar Sharma and Rashid Khan are the best placed Indians. The former endured a painstakingly made 73 while Rashid improved to a 70 to reach the weekend in T19.

Rahil Gangjee (74) and S Chikkarangappa are lying T41 at an even 144. Ajeetesh Sandhu got off to a hot start, producing three consecutive birdies at the start of his round, before easing to a 71. He is T52 at 145.

Leading scores:

134 – Julian Suri (USA) (67, 67); 136 – George Coetzee (RSA) (70, 66), Robert Karlsson (Swe) (68, 68); 137 – Callum Shinkwin (Eng) (72, 65), Scott Hend (Aus) (69, 68); 138 – Prayad Marsaeng (Tha) (69, 69); 139 – Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) (69, 70) and N. Thangaraja (Sri) (71, 68).