Matteo Manassero

Gurugram, March 9 (IANS) Italian golfer Matteo Manassero overcame a disastrous start by shooting a four-under 68 to seize the first round lead, as the Indians struggled at the weather-disrupted Hero Indian Open here on Thursday.

The 23-year-old, who is a four-time winner on the European Tour, double bogeyed his opening hole on 10 at the DLF Golf and Country Club’s Gary Player course but fought back superbly with seven birdies against another bogey to seize the early initiative in the $1.75 million tournament.

A total of 66 players will return to the course at 7am on Friday to conclude their first rounds following a 90-minute suspension in the afternoon due to the threat of lightning. Amongst them is England’s David Horsey, who stood at five-under through 15 holes and was bogey-free.

Malaysia’s Danny Chia and Angelo Que of the Philippines battled to shoot matching 70s to stay within striking reach of Manassero but early favourite Anirban Lahiri of India, the Asian Tour number one in 2015, required two closing birdies to salvage a four-over 76.

Two 19-year-old Indians, one an amateur and the another a rising professional, gave the Indians fans something to cheer about on a tough opening day.

Rigel Fernandes, an amateur, who flew in from the United States, and the teen professional, Shubhankar Sharma, who has been recovering from illness, were among the leading Indian scorers, who had finished their first round at the Hero Indian Open 2017, as both returned even par.

Even par was the best among those who had finished their first 18 holes and that was also the card for Rahil Gangjee.

The best Indian scores belonged to S.S.P. Chawrasia, one-under through 15 holes and Chiragh Kumar, one-under through 10 holes, but they will need to come back in the morning to complete their first round.

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