New South Welshman Travis Smyth and Shankar Das from India carded fine five-under-par 67s to take the lead on day one of The DGC Open presented by Mastercard.
Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Indian Veer Ahlawat carded 68s, while India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu and Karandeep Kochhar returned 69s, on the famous Lodhi course at Delhi Golf Club – which was recently re-designed by South African great Gary Player.
Smyth, looking for his first win on the Asian Tour, opted not to use his driver on the notoriously tight golf course and it paid dividends as he recorded an eagle, four birdies and dropped just one shot.
“I’d like to know if this is actually the tightest golf course in the world because if there is a course out there tighter than this then I don’t want to play it,” said the 27-year-old Australian.
“My strength is my iron play so not having my driver out here, I am quite happy with that. All the par fours I am hitting between a 5-iron or 2-iron off the tee, leaving myself eight irons to wedges in.”
It’s the first time he has played at Delhi Golf Club and judging by his round today he has an instant attraction to it.
RIGHT: Travis Smyth is chasing his first win on the Asian Tour. PHOTO: Supplied.
“You have to hit it so straight off these tees and with the wind swirling the anxiety levels are up around Delhi,” he said. “I took the driver out of my bag for the first time in my life. I didn’t bring it to the course, there might be one hole, where I could use it, on hole No.3, but I thought I would just use three wood and take driver out, and have an extra club in the bag.”
Having teed off on 10 his round quickly got going when he eagled the par-five 14th.
“I hit 2-iron off the tee. I had planned to play it as a three-shot hole, but the ball ran out much further, so I thought I had better go for the green and I hit one of the best high three irons of my life up onto the top shelf, about 15 feet and holed the putt,” added Smyth.
Veteran Das produced one of the best rounds of his 20-year career to share the limelight with Smyth.
He didn’t drop a shot on the front nine and went out in four under before making two birdies and a bogey on the homeward stretch.
“I have practiced a lot with my three-wood for DGC,” said Das.
“I’d like to know if this is actually the tightest golf course in the world because if there is a course out there tighter than this then I don’t want to play it.” - Travis Smyth.
“This is a very good course. Earlier there were flat greens, but now there are more high greens. Now not only do you have to hit the tee shot well, but you have to hit the second shot really well, then only you get a chance for a birdie. Overall, I feel I am getting my game back
India’s Shiv Kapur, a four-time champion on the Asian Tour and winner of the 2017 Panasonic Open India at Delhi Golf Club, carded a 71 and is tied ninth.
“I started off quite well, was quite happy with my round, was four-under for the first 10 holes. Then I hit a bit of a speed bump on the back nine. I didn’t quite have my ‘A’ game today. I made a couple of sloppy bogeys coming in and that made the difference between a good and an average round,” said Kapur, who is a member of the club.
“The course is in the best condition I’ve ever seen. Overall, the changes to the course have been good. Earlier on the par fives you hit a good tee shot and that was pretty much game over. Now you’ve got to hit good shots into the greens, or you have some pretty tricky up and downs. On a course like this lined with trees and bushes, there’s no margin for error. One loose shot here is two, three shots gone and the big numbers can really hurt you around here.”