Ajeetesh Sandhu lies 34th at the Diamond Cup in Japan

Ibaraki, Japan, May 12: It was a mixed day for the Indians in the opening round of the Asia Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup at Oarai Golf Club today. Ajeetesh Sandhu, who has a win in Japan on their Challenge Tour, opened with a decent even par 70 and was placed T-34, while Rahil Gangjee had a rough day with 5-over 75, which means he will need a low second round to make the cut, which is likely to fall at around 1-over.

Sandhu who began on the back nine of the course, had two bogeys on the 10th and the 14th, but came back well to birdie the first and seventh to get to even par. Gangjee had five bogeys and no birdies.

Veteran Japanese golfer Hiroshi Iwata and his rookie compatriot Kaito Onishi carded five-under-par 65s to take the first-round lead.

American Berry Henson, Todd Sinnott from Australia and Japan’s Shugo Imahira returned 66s – in what is the first Asian Tour event to be played in Japan since September of 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twelve players fired 67s including Japan’s Yuto Katsuragawa, currently first on Japan’s money list, and Keita Nakajima – the Japanese golfer who is the world’s number one ranked amateur.

Both Iwata, a three-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO), and Onishi, a professional since last year looking for his first victory, traded seven birdies against two bogeys.

This week’s tournament, which is jointly sanctioned with the JGTO, gives the winner an exemption into The Open at St. Andrews in July which is a major attraction for Iwata.

Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana, buoyed this week by receiving an invite to next week’s PGA Championship, came in with a 69.

Two players made aces on par-3s  on the first day. Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai (70) holed his nine iron on the fourth while Japan’s Naoyuki Kataoka (69) found the cup with his eight iron on 14. They both won JPY300,000 (approx. US$2,330).

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