| Shiv Kapur tees off on the 15th hole at the Hong Kong Open on Thursday. (Reuters)
Hong Kong: Indian-born Swede Daniel Chopra fired an opening round of four-under 66 to be tied eighth, while Shiv Kapur kicked off his campaign with a solid 67 for a share of the 18th place in the $2.25 million Hong Kong Open on Thursday.
A 10th tee starter, Chopra, who learned his basics at the Delhi Golf Club and went on to become a PGA Tour winner by lifting the title at Ginn Sur Mer Classic last month, birdied the 10th, 11th and 13th but his rhythm was snapped by the dropped shot on the 15th and he took the turn at two-under.
On resumption, he bogeyed the first hole but fired birdies on the third, fourth and seventh to make amends.
Shiv Kapur, also playing his back nine first, had a great start as he birdied the 12th, 13th, 15th and 17th before stumbling on his first bogey on the 18th.
When he resumed, he dropped two more bogeys on the first and fifth but managed to keep things under control by picking up a shot each on the third and seventh.
South Korean stalwart K. J. Choi, tipped to be Asia’s first major winner, blasted eight-under 62 to grab the opening round lead, ahead of Walesman Garry Houston.
Choi set the course on fire on his back nine and reeled off five birdies in a row from the 12th hole for a sensational round to prove why he is considered among the favourites here.
The bogey on the ninth hole was the lone blip in an impeccable round that was studded with nine birdies at the par-70 Hong Kong Golf Club.
“I feel very well adjusted to playing on the US PGA Tour but it feels like home every time I come back to Asia,” said Choi. “I started getting my rhythm on the 10th hole, which required an accurate drive. Then on the back nine I was very comfortable with my strokes.”
Among other Indians in the fray, S.S.P. Chowrasia carded 69 to be tied 50th, while fellow Calcutta pro Rahul Gangjee and Amandeep Johl turned in identical rounds of one-over 70 to be tied 82nd.
Veteran Gaurav Ghei slumped to tied 131st after going four-over 75 and he would need a miracle of sort to finish on the right side of the cut line on Friday.