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Zaw Moe surprise leader

New Delhi: Unheralded Zaw Moe of Myanmar, 71st on the APGA Order of Merit, took the honours on Day I of the star-studded $300,000 Royal Challenge Indian Open with a superb nine-under 63 at the Delhi Golf Club Course here Thursday.

Moe capped a fine effort through the day by chipping in on the final hole to break the course record which stood at eight-under par 64.

Indian stars Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal, the pre-tournament favourites, were pushed to the background as Moe scorched the DGC greens with nine birdies.

Randhawa, the 2002 APGA Order of Merit leader, started from the 10th tee and finished the day with a six-under 66 to be placed third. Canadian Rick Gibson, last year’s runner-up, was second with a card of 65.

Atwal, who won the Malaysian Open in February, shot a three-under 69 which to be in the 14th place on the leaderboard.

Two hole- in-one feats in the morning set the tone for the rest of the day’s excitement.

American Marcus Both had a hole-in-one on the par-four fifth while South Korean Jung Gi-ho achieved the feat on the par-three seventh. Unfortunately there were no prizes for the hole-in-one on the opening day. A Mercedes Benz awaits the golfer who cards a hole-in-one on the last two days.

Local favourite Randhawa put in a lot of effort but was done in by some poor ‘ball hitting.’

Pablo Del Olmo, Kevin Pomarleau, Kim Felton, Adam Groom and Chris Williams were tied for fourth place with identical scores of five-under 67.

The biggest disappointment was Mukesh Kumar, who has 10 titles already under his belt this season. He managed a two-over 74 and was languishing at 97th. Digvijay Singh did much better to be tied for 14th with a three-under 69.

Digvijay had a promising start but faltered on the back-nine. After nine holes, he was five-under and then had birdies on the tenth, 14th, 15th, 17th and 18th holes. Bogeys on the first, fourth and sixth holes saw Digvijay finish at 69.

Scotland’s Simon Yates and Australia’s Brad Kennedy, strong title contenders both, were left mulling what went wrong after performing well below expectations. While Kennedy ended with a level par card, Yates carded a poor two-over 74.

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