New Delhi, Feb 7 (UNI) Giving a highly clinical display laced with a stunning eagles on the 14th and the 18th, crowd favourite Jyoti Randhawa fired scintillating seven under 65 to soar into the lead as two more Indians finished among the top ten on the opening day of the star studded 2.5 million US Dollar EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) here today.
Once again DGC proved to be lucky for Jyoti, who had won the Hero Honda Indian open here on his last appearance here in October 2007.
On a day when several reputations got dented, Jyoti along with Shiv Kapur and C Muniyappa made a strong statement on behalf of Indian golf with super showing.
Jeev Milkha Singh however, was the exception. The famed pro gave a dismal performance and ended the day with five over 77 and will have to struggle hard tomorrow to make the cut.
Jyoti started cautiously on his favourite course and shot two birdies on the 3rd and 6th on his way out in which he aggregated 34 but it was his return journey that enthralled his fans as he shot a birdie on the 12th and then fired eagles on the 14th and 18th to end the round and the day on a very satisfying note piping his close rivals Richard Finch (England) and Damien Mc Grane (Ireland) to joint second spot. Both carded identical 67.
''I played very well. I could not have asked for a better round,'' said a visibly pleased Jyoti.
''I watched two players before me putt on the 18th, I registered that in my mind and that helped me getting the eagle.I had done the same in the Indian Open in October,'' he said.
In the morning session Shiv Kapur led the local charge after a four-under-par 68. Kapur, the 2005 Asian Tour's Rookie of the Year, posted seven birdies against three dropped shots to finish joint third along with Spain's Jose Manuel Lara and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn.
Unheralded C Muniyappa, who had a hole in one at the 12, carded creditable three under 69 and was clubbed joint fourth along with ten others.
But it was the round World number 4, South African Ernie Els will like to forget. Half way through he seemed to have hit the road block with a quadruple bogey 9 on the 18th hole, having started from the tenth much to the bewilderment of the crowd.
The DGC bushes claimed a high profile victim when he hit his second shot into the rough next to the green. He took a penalty drop but that did not help as he stayed in the bushes.
It took him three more shots to get to the green and two more putts to end the ordeal. He had a round of 3 over 75 and was lying way down the leaderboard.
The New Delhi-born Kapur was one over after four holes but he grinded it out at the historical par-72 course. ''I'm actually pretty proud of myself that I hung in there. Things were not going my way for the first sort of six or seven holes, I was actually over par at one stage. It's just one of those things that you learn in competitive golf that you have to learn how to grind it out, even when you don't have your A Game, you have to learn to post a score and I managed to do that.
In all 32 Indians were in the fray and it was an even day for most of them. Arjun Atwal, SSP Chowrasia Harmeet Kalhon and Digvijay shot identical two under 70.
Rahil and Ashok Kumar had par 72 round while Amandeep Johl, Shamim Khan and mukesh kumar returned identical one over par 73 cards.
Gagan Bhullar, Gaurav Ghei, Sanjay Kumar, A S Lehal, Arjun Singh, Uttam Mundy, Ranjit Singh all had identical score of 75 while R Ganpathy and Vijay Kumar shot 76 each.
Thailand's Chinnarat Phadungsil enjoyed a solid start to the season with a 69 together with Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin, Spain's Alvaro Quiros Garcia, Dutchman Maarten Lafeber and Englishman Benn Barham.
''Thai young gun Chinnarat believes that the time spent with his parents on course during the year end break has helped him pull through a solid round today.
''I have been playing golf with my parents. My mom (Noo) and dad (Anan) are both single handicappers so playing with them help keep my game in check. My dad also gives me tips about course management every single time we play together so that helps the mental aspect of my game on how to tackle a golf course.
''I think this has helped improve my game coming into the 2008 season,'' said Chinnarat, who defeated Kapur in a play-off to win the 2005 Double A International Open in Bangkok at the age of 17 years and five days.
UNI HSB RAR RAI1831