March 8, 2019 4:06:28 pm
Gaganjeet Bhullar made a fine start in difficult conditions with a three-under 69 that placed him Tied 10th after the first round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The 30-year-old, who won his maiden European Tour title in Fiji, was Tied-10th with 18 others on a windswept first round.
Five years ago on his debut in Qatar, Bhullar had started with a 67.
SSP Chowrasia’s wretched run continued with a one-over 73 that put him a Tied-82nd.
“It was a good opening day. I started off well from the 10th and I was minus five in the first 10 holes. Then I was a bit unlucky and had a double bogey, losing the ball. That was the only blemish I had today and I parred the rest,” said Bhullar.
The conditions were difficult as it was windy, just as it was in Oman last week. It was blowing from the morning so Bhullar did not have any advantage from a morning tee-off.
Adri Arnaus and Justin Walters topped the congested leaderboard as they carded first rounds of 67 each.
Arnaus, in his first full season on the European Tour after graduating from the European Challenge Tour, set the clubhouse target of five under par. Walters was one of just two golfers to go bogey-free on the Peter Harradine-designed course.
Walters’ compatriots George Coetzee and Justin Harding are two of seven golfers who share third place on four-under par and 19 golfers are tied for tenth place on three under par, including last week’s Oman Open winner Kurt Kitayama and one of them is Bhullar.
Anirban Lahiri placed precariously; Rafa Bello leads
Anirban Lahiri was placed precariously at two-over 74 and in Tied-72nd position at the end of the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Lahiri, who has been struggling with consistency in his four starts in 2019, has missed the cut twice. In the first round, Lahiri hit nine of 18 greens in regulation as he shot 74, on Thursday.
Rafa Cabrera Bello making his Bay Hill debut shot seven-under 65 for a two-shot lead while playing with Arnold Palmer’s grandson, Sam Saunders (73).
Keegan Bradley played bogey-free for a 67 in the morning, as did Cabrera Bello.
Lahiri started from the 10th tee in the company of Ryan Moore (71) and China’s Li Haotong (77), who has been in hot form this year. Lahiri reached the green in two, but from there three-putted for a bogey, including missing a par putt from five feet.
He got his first birdie on Par-4 13th hole after a good approach shot and this time he did not miss from four feet. He bogeyed Par-4 15th after going to the left rough and his approach went 35 yards to the green where he had a two-putt for a bogey.
He holed a 13-footer for birdie on par-5 16th for his second birdie but on the Par-4 18th, Lahiri had a bogey after hitting the green in three and was not able to hole the 20-footer for par.
Lahiri went twice into the rough and bogeyed the first where he reached the green in four and one-putted. He birdied sixth and again bogeyed eighth and his bright spot of the day came on the ninth, his closing hole, when he rolled a 36-foot putt for birdie and finished 74.
Left-handed Phil Mickelson provided the entertainment as he once hit a shot right-handed and on the 18th, he almost holed his shot from the fairway. He shot 68. Mickelson won at Bay Hill in 1997.
For his right-handed shot, he inverted a 9-iron and tried to smash it through the mesh netting. The ball rolled up and came back out of the fence but was out-of-bounds. The new rule for a stroke-and-distance penalty allowed him to move it one club length away and Mickelson hit that to the front of the green and he two-putted from 30 feet for a double bogey, which could have been much worse.
Mickelson (68) was with Graeme McDowell, Bubba Watson, Patrick Rodgers and Billy Horschel.
The Open champion Francesco Molinari made one of two aces on the day and was among those at 69. Also shooting an ace was D.A. Points.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy opened with a 72. Justin Rose opened with a 71, while Jason Day withdrew after six holes because of a back injury.
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