New Delhi - Holder Siddikur Rahman has made a resounding start to his Indian Open title defence, firing a six-under-par 65 to grab a share of the opening round lead at the Delhi Golf Course (DGC) on Thursday.
The 30-year-old from Bangladesh sank in a five-foot putt on the final hole for his sixth birdie in a blemish-free round to join local favourite SSP Chawrasia in the five-way tie for the lead.
"The swirling wind made things difficult but I'm happy to card a bogey-free round," diminutive golfer Siddikur, who won the last edition of the tournament in 2013, told Reuters.
"I like this course. I've been playing here since my amateur days and hope I can continue like this in the next three days.
"My hitting and putting have been good and I have the belief that I can do it here."
Rahman is seeking his maiden European Tour title this week after the Indian Open became a co-sanctioned event this year.
DGC brought out the best in Chawrasia as well as the local favourite carded an identical bogey-free round at the course where he won the Indian Masters title in 2008.
"It wasn't very windy in the morning so that made things easier. The wind started to pick up after a few holes but I'm used to play in these conditions," said Chawrasia, son of a greenskeeper and a self-taught golfer.
His playing partner Richard Lee of Canada also made the most of the perfect morning session to match Chawrasia and maintain his strong form, having finished fourth in Thailand last week and fifth in Malaysia the week before.
"I played great in Malaysia and Thailand but the challenge there was so different. Here it's tight and bouncy so to play well here after the last two weeks is pretty satisfying," said Lee.
Thai Chapchai Nirat and Swede Joakim Lagergren also carded 65, while Sri Lankan Mithun Perera was second two shots behind the pack.
Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a one-under 70, while playing partner and in-form Indian Anirban Lahiri went two-over after dropping a quadruple-bogey eight following an unplayable lie in trees.
Leading first-round scores in the Indian Open in New Delhi (par 71) on Thursday (India unless stated):
65 - S.S.P Chowrasia, Richard Lee (CAN), Chapchai Nirat (THA), Siddikur Rahman (BAN), Joakim Lagergren (SWE)
67- Mithun Perera (SRI), Kalem Richardson (AUS), Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA), Scott Barr (AUS), Prayad Marksaeng (THA), Danny Chia (MAS), Lionel Weber (FRA), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Jazz Janewattananond (THA)
69 - Carlos Del Moral (ESP), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), S. Chikkarangappa, Shubhankar Sharma, Chiragh Kumar, Marcus Fraser (AUS), Peter Lawrie (IRL), Paul Peterson (USA)
70 - Carlos Pigem (ESP), Richard McEvoy (ENG), Arjun Atwal, Romain Wattel (FRA), Adrian Otaegui (ESP), John Hahn (USA), Marcus Both (AUS), John Parry (ENG), Sujjan Singh, Bernd Ritthammer (GER), Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Daniel Chopra (SWE), Jake Roos (RSA), Borja Virto Astudillo (ESP), Jason Palmer (ENG), Sam Brazel (AUS)