SSP Chawrasia. File Picture
St. Andrews, Scotland, Oct 16: SSP Chawrasia returned to action in style, as he carded three-under 69 in the first round of the inaugural Scottish Championship late on Thursday. The 42-year-old Chawrasia, who was struck down by Covid recently had six birdies against three bogeys for a round that placed him Tied-21st in the first round.
Shubhankar Sharma (71) was T- 46 and Gaganjeet Bhullar (75) was T-83 as Spaniard Adrian Otaegui shot 10-under 62 to lead by three over Matt Wallace and South African Bryce Easton, who had 67 each.
Ryder cup captain Padraig Harrington came back with six-under 66 and was Tied-fourth.
Chawrasia, who last played a competitive round in March at the Qatar Masters, opened with a birdie and was three-under through six holes, before he dropped three bogeys in four holes between fifth and eighth holes. Birdies on 11th and 16th repaired some of that damage and he finished at three-under 69.
“Considering how long it has been since I played a tournament, it was a decent start. Actually I had begun to find my rhythm and was trending fine as I prepared for the Hero Indian Open, which I had won twice, but then came the lockdown and all events stopped. That took away the momentum. And then I had Covid, and my mother, too, had it. I am glad all that is behind,” said Chawrasia.
On his round, Chawrasia said, “Things were great at three-under through six holes. But I had two not very good chips from close to the green and when I did hit one fine, I missed a smallish putt for bogey.”
“I am happy that I played myself back into the round on back nine with two birdies and no bogeys. I have played a lot around St. Andrews but at Old Couse and Kingsbarns and Carnoustie a little further, but never at Fairmont, so, it was a new Links course for me. After a Covid test and then staying at the Hotel at Fairmont, it has been good and I have adjusted to it. Hopefully things will be as well over the next three days.”
Sharma after two bogeys in his first three holes ended at one-under 71 while Bhullar, who is having a rough run, opened with a double bogey and then had a run of three bogeys in a row from first to third. He birdied 18th and sixth.
Otaegui shot an impressive bogey-free opening round of 62. A hat trick of birdies at the beginning of both nines helped the two-time European Tour winner set a target of ten under par at Fairmont St Andrews. Englishman Matt Wallace and Bryce Easton were at seven under par.
The venue is hosting a European Tour event for the first time, but Easton in particular is feeling positive vibes, having spent his wedding night at the resort overlooking the famous town of St Andrews.
Harrington and English trio Garrick Porteous, Chris Paisley and Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion Aaron Rai are a shot further back after opening rounds of 66.
Ewen Ferguson, Scott Jamieson and Marc Warren are the leading Scots, joining former World Number One Lee Westwood in a group of eight players at five under par.