Chiba (Japan), April 21 (IANS) India’s Shiv Kapur and Rahil Gangjee were tied ninth and joint 13th after scoring three-under 68 and 69 in the opening round of the Panasonic Open Golf Championship here on Thursday.
Shiv, who has one title on the Asian Tour, fired birdies on the third, fourth, 11th and 15th holes against a bogey on the eighth in his first tournament in nearly a month after getting married to Maya on April 3 on the holiday isle of Bali.
“I played pretty solid. I made only one bogey from one bad swing. I was in between clubs and the wind was gusting. Other than that, I played solid and hit a lot of fairways and greens,” Shiv said in an Asian Tour release.
“It got breezy towards the end of my round so I think we had the best of the conditions. You have to take advantage of the good conditions,” the 34-year-old added.
“I got married early this month so that’s why I’ve been away from golf. I only did some practice last week to prepare for this week. I had quite a big break so the body and mind are quite fresh.”
“Getting married is really a blessing. I feel like I’m in a good place in my personal life. My golf game just needs to get a notch better and I’ll be very, very happy.”
Meanwhile, Gangjee carded five birdies and three bogeys for a 69 and shared the 13th position with four other golfers after the 18 holes in the 150 million Yen (approx. $1.27 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Among other Indians in the fray, Jyoti Randhawa shot one-over 72 to be tied 46th, while Gaganjeet Bhullar was tied 63rd with a 73.
Chiragh Kumar shared the 88th spot with compatriot veteran Jeev Milkha Singh on 74, whereas Himmat Rai made a 75 to be tied 103rd.
Meanwhile, Jason Knutzon of the United States overcame a hip injury to shoot a 66 and trail first round leader Ryutaro Nagano of Japan by one shot.
Knutzon, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour but not since 2007, produced a flawless round which was matched by Nagano, who continued his fine form at the Chiba Country Club, after posting a third place result in Japan last week.
Wu Ashun of China, a member of Team Asia in the EurAsia Cup, was bunched in third place alongside Japanese Yuta Ikeda, Azuma Yano and Hidemasa Hoshino, Sanghyun Park of Korea and Chapchai Nirat of Thailand on 67s.
Despite experiencing some pain in his hip midway through the round, the 40-year-old Knutzon remained steadfast as he returned with five birdies in the cold but calmer morning conditions.
“I don’t know if it is turning 40 or what but I’ve had it (hip injury) since the start of the year. I’ve been on the physio table a lot. The injury popped up again on my back nine but I was fortunate to hole some putts,” said Knutzon.
“Hopefully the body holds up. I’ve been fighting a few injuries. It is day one so it is hard to get too excited. We were fortunate to tee off around 7am. We played a few holes without the wind but it started to blow in the afternoon,” he added.