Emiliano Grillo tamed the testing Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club with a course record equalling round of 65 to hold a two shot lead when play was halted due to darkness on day one at the Hero Indian Open.
The Argentinian’s card included eight birdies and just a single bogey in a round that he felt could have been closer to a record breaking 59 on any other course. His seven under par round keeps him ahead of the chasing pack with Pablo Larrazabal of Spain, Italian Matteo Manassero and Paul Peterson of the USA all recording five under par rounds of 67.
Adrien Saddier of France is also currently on five under par with one hole remaining, while Keith Horne of the USA is on the same total with two holes left when 24 players return to complete their rounds at 7 am on Friday.
Larrazábal’s round is all the more impressive after his start to the day, being roused by a phone call from a European Tour official after his alarm failed to go off with just 38 minutes to go until he teed off from the tenth hole. He managed to calm his racing heart after a dash through the Delhi traffic in time to recover from a double-bogey on the 15th hole to turn in 34 and make five birdies in a row from the fourth.
Scotland’s Marc Warren joins Ajeetesh Sandhu, the current leading Indian in the field, on four under par while a further ten players are one further back at three under.
Local favourite SSP Chawrasia got his title defence off to a faltering start with a double bogey on the first hole, eventually finishing the day at two over par, while rising star Shubhankar Sharma also had a tough day, recording a one over par round of 73.
Emiliano Grillo: “I had to play almost perfect golf to shoot a seven under. I think anywhere else it would have been close to a 59 or something. It was definitely a magnificent round of golf.
“I putted very well. I had, I think, 26 putts and that helps anyone’s round out there. Hopefully I can keep rolling them in. I’ve just got to keep the ball in play, that’s what matters around here.
“The par save on 15, it was a rollercoaster. Then on 16 I got a little bit unlucky and hit the rocks on the bunker and it went pretty far on a bad lie. But I was able to make the putt coming back in there. It was very important to close with a birdie because I was playing very well going into the last hole.
“Just got to keep going. I hit a lot of fairways, I made a lot of putts, so a lot of positives to take forward.”
Pablo Larrazabal: “My lovely new iPhone went back to Spanish time overnight and I woke up at the hotel 38 minutes before my tee-time. Thanks to Dorothée, the secretary of the European Tour, who called me in my room and said ‘Pablo, you’re playing in 38 minutes, you must wake up and go to the tenth tee’.
“I woke up, had a ten-second shower and I ran and had a courtesy car waiting for me. I arrived at the course 25 minutes before my tee-time. My heart was pumping big time, I was very nervous. I think the courtesy car made a world record from the hotel to the golf course in a couple of minutes, a ride that can take ten or 15 minutes, it was really wild.
“I started with a birdie on 11 and then I four-putted 15, then birdied 16, 17 and 18 to shoot two under par on the back nine – that is very, very good. I love this golf course, there are a few tricky greens but nine birdies is quite unbelievable.”
Matteo Manassero: “It was a really good round. I didn’t start too well, which is why I’m pleased to be standing here with a five-under-par. I got a good feeling in my swing on the back nine. I was starting to hit good shots and I managed to grab the opportunities. To be able to start my tournament like this, on a course as challenging as this gives me plenty of confidence.
“You can put it down into many words. I feel that it’s instinct of managing a good round even if you’re not playing well. You can call it confidence, I call it instinct. It’s something that just comes. It’s hard to describe when rounds come out like this, but I’ll have to keep going in this direction.
“It’s always nice to come back after a bad hole. I hit the ball well on the 8th, but it didn’t fade, and it went to the bushes, and I had to drop and miss the short putt for par. It’s good to end with a solid nine and have a nice lunch afterwards.”
Paul Peterson: “I’m really happy with today’s round. Four under was my goal today, so to one-up that was nice. It felt like it was nice to get out in the morning. Not much wind out there, and I felt like the pin locations were pretty accessible today. I have a feeling that they are not going to be as nice over the next three days. It was good to get out in front of that.
“I made kind of a bad swing there on six. Then to bounce back with three birdies to finish the day was big. It’s funny how sometimes a bogey can kind of catapult you to make a few coming in, so I was happy I was able to bounce back from that.”
It’s just good to start off with some momentum. To be able to carry that going into theses next few days, I’m really happy to be in the spot that I’m at. I’m feeling confident with my game.