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Great start for the Spaniards at the Hero Indian Open

Hidalgo and Otaegui thread the needle at DLF Golf & CC

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Ángel Hidalgo saca de búnker.
Ángel Hidalgo saca de búnker. (© Golffile | Thos Caffrey)

Powerful start for the Armada at the Hero Indian Open. Ángel Hidalgo (-5) and Adrián Otaegui (-5) are the spearheads. Both have provisionally placed themselves high in the ranking, within striking distance of leader Joost Luiten (-7). In addition, under par rounds from Rafa Cabrera Bello (-2) and Sebastián García Rodríguez (-1). The music coming from New Delhi is pleasant. Anything that involves winning the course means being in a good position to play all four days and, almost most importantly, it will mean not being too far from the head.

Hidalgo’s 67 was not exactly easy. In fact, the round was uncomfortable, thorny. He started with a painful bogey on hole 1, putting for birdie and closing the matter with a three-putt where there was none. A little throat clearing and on we go. There is no other choice.

He responded well with two quick birdies, an immediate one on hole 2 and a very good one on 5. Nothing happened here. In fact, the machine was getting started. However, another blow to the chin came on 7. Double bogey. Cruel. The Malaga player is a bit tight on this exit. It’s tense and he has to hit the driver perfectly to fly the bunker on the right. He was close, but the ball hit the front slope and instead of going forward or falling gently into the centre of the trap, it jumped backwards and ended up under a tree. Bad. Almost unplayable. He did what he could in the placement shot, but left an uncomfortable distance, regular approach and three putts. Basically, everything that could go wrong did.

Again, impeccable reaction. Textbook birdie on 8 and another very good one on 9 sinking a three and a half metre putt. He managed to finish the first round under par. Ten in attitude. At that moment, Hidalgo closed the account of errors. Four under par on the back nine, with three consecutive birdies on holes 13, 14 and 15. Of special value, the success of 14. At the time of finishing the player from Las Brisas had only seen two birdies there. A solid and powerful day. 16 greens. The best club in the bag, the head.

Magnificent start also for Otaegui, with a much more orderly round. Very Adrian. Very much what was missed this year with the San Sebastian player. It’s hard to get bored at this DLF Golf & CC, yet Otaegui has managed to do so at times. He has almost always been in position and has putted brilliantly. His hallmark. He equals his second best round of the season and presents his candidacy for victory and also to get into the PGA Championship. He made six birdies and a solitary bogey. In India you have to thread the needle from the tee and Otaegui and Hidalgo have done it wonderfully.

Good start also for Rafa Cabrera Bello (-2), who was four under par after ten holes. The second nine got complicated for him, but the balance is positive. He made two rounds of two consecutive bogeys, but in both cases he reacted with birdie, the last one on hole 9. Similarly, Sebastián García Rodríguez (-1) has managed to save the day. Another consistent round from the Madrid player in this good start to the season.

As we say, the provisional leader is Luiten (-7), who is straightening out a discreet start to the season, with a one-shot lead over Sam Bairstow (-6), who was already fighting for victory at the Prosche Singapore Open a week ago. Tied at -5 with the Spaniards is Frenchman Jeong Weon Ko (-5), another of those players for whom this course fits like a glove.

Live results of the Hero Indian Open 2024