Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman uses course familiarity to take Rd 1 lead at DGC Open

Familiarity with the Delhi Golf Course layout proved to be a big advantage at the DGC Open. After the first round, Bangladesh’s Siiddikur Rahman — frequent player to the golf course where he clinched one fo his two Asian Tour titles — began his latest tilt with a bogey-free round of seven-under 65 that put him in a two-shot lead in the $750,000 event.

Rashid Khan, who was the best performing Indian on the day, avoided dropping any shot on the layout re-designed by golf legend Gary Player. His 67 put him at par in second spot with Thailand’s defending champion Nitithorn Thippong and Filipino Justin Quiban, who had a career-best fifth-place finish at last year’s edition.

Siddikur won the Hero Indian Open at the DGC in 2013, while Rashid has won the SAIL-SBI Open here ahead of the Bangladeshi golfer. Siddikur’s comfort level at the venue can be gauged by the fact that he has 13 Top-10 finishes in 16 starts. Besides the one win, he has four runner-up finishes here.

“I love the Delhi Golf Club course and I have always enjoyed playing here with some good results, including a win. So, it was a wonderful day. I’m hitting really well and at the same time I am putting well,” Siddikur, who had birdies on the first and eighth holes before finishing his round in impressive fashion with five birdies in his last seven holes, said.

Rashid had to deal with some adversity over the past few months in the form of a back injury. “I had the injury around November and after that, I lost my touch so I was really scared to hit shots because of my back. I had to change my swing a little,” Rashid, who began with nine consecutive pars on Thursday, reflected.

“On the back nine, I had a good birdie on the first and then finishing with the last three birdies was great. That gives you confidence and that’s what I needed.”

Six players were tied for fifth place after carding 68 each. The group included another Indian S Chikkarangappa, who was tied sixth last week in Thailand, and Indian-American golfer Varun Chopra.
Four players were tied for 11th at 3-under. Overall, 40 players shot under par and another 16, including SSP Chawrasia, who has won three Asian Tour titles at the DGC, shot even par 72 to be tied 41st.

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