Smriti in joint fifth position in Indian Open

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Gurgaon, Mar 26 (UNI) Title contender Smriti Mehra fired a one-over 73 to occupy the joint fifth position along with six other players on the opening day of the 120,000 dollar DLF Women's Indian Open here today.

Smriti, who is the best placed Indian, was three shots behind Thai teenager Phatlum Pornanong, who is leading with a two-under 70 on a day when there were just three sub-par rounds and one even par.

Smriti had two bogeys on the 11th and 14th after starting from the tenth and then had her only birdie on the sixth.

Tied with Smriti, in the bunch at fifth, was another promising Thai player Chutichai Porani, World Cupper Wang Chun of China, Nontaya Srisawang of Thailand, Japanese LPGA player Yuki Sakurai and Korean Kang Yeo Jin.

Among other Indians in the fray, Bangalore amateur Nicollet, who was going great guns at two-under through 13 holes, faded away at the end. She found a bogey on the 12th and then a heart-breaking triple bogey on the par-5 14th.

She had a double bogey on the 17th and another bogey on the 18th to finish with a seven-over 79.

India's other big hope, Irina Brar, had a tough time with a four-over 76 and was tied 21st along with Kiran Matharu of England.

One shot behind them was India's young US-based amateur Tanya Wadhwa in tied 26th at five-over 77.

''I am looking forward to a 'Chak de' round of Golf tomorrow.

I was not happy with my putting today and am looking to improve tomorrow,'' Smriti said after her round.

''I was comfortable with the course and the weather and thoroughly enjoyed my home Open,'' she added.

Phatlum had a bogey on the closing hole on the 18th, when she missed the fairway while looking set for a handy lead.

The 19-year-old from Thailand still managed to finish one clear of her nearest rivals, amateur Lidya Ivana Jaya, the 2008 Indonesia Amateur champion, and Ladies European player, Jenni Kuosa of Finland who finished with one-under 71 each.

Lying fourth was Shih Huei-Ju of Chinese Taipei, who after a nightmarish start of four-over after five holes, recovered with a hole-in-one on the par-3 171-yard eighth hole.

She birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th to move two-under. But a late bogey on the 17th saw her finish at 71.

Shih Huei-Ju struck an 8-iron to perfection for the first hole-in-one of the tournament. She becomes the first claimant to the Rs 50,000 prize put up by Sudhir Gensets. In the event of any more aces, the money will be shared or else Shih will get the full amount.

The field of 62 includes 11 amateurs and the cut will come after two rounds with top-50 and ties making the third and final round on Friday.

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