Whiteford, Canizares on top

2012-02-16 16:01

Gurgaon, India - Peter Whiteford of Scotland and Spain's Alejandro Canizares left fancied opponents behind to take the lead after the opening round of the $2.4 million Avantha Masters on Thursday.

The duo both shot six-under par 66 to head the leaderboard in India's richest golf event, tri-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours and the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI).

Federico Colombo of Italy was one shot behind as players battled a wind-swept course at the DLF Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of New Delhi.

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee were bunched in fourth place on 68 alongside four other players, including the French duo of Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Gregory Havret.

The 29-year-old Canizares, looking for his first win since 2006, was delighted after he birdied the 18th hole to join Whiteford in the lead.

"It's always nice to finish on a high like that," he said. "I didn't hit a great wedge shot into the green so it was nice to sink the putt.

"I played very steady and I putted quite nicely. The only mistake I made was missing a short putt on the seventh so I made a bogey. I had a couple of wayward drives but nothing serious and I felt very comfortable.

"Hopefully I can keep this going and be in contention going into the final round," said Canizares.

Whiteford, who was one-under par at the turn, birdied four in a row from the 10th to shoot to the top of the board.

"It was the first time I've hit the fairways in months," said the 31-year-old Scot, chasing his first European Tour title. "I probably did not hit that many fairways, but it felt a lot better.

"I hit a lot more drivers than people usually do out there and just took advantage of the course and bully it a little. It can bite you easily though if you're not careful."

Two-time Major winner John Daly finished a poor seven-over par 79, with six bogeys and one birdie. Former British Open champion Todd Hamilton also had a bad day with four-over par 76.

First-round leaders at the par-72 DLF Golf and Country Club:

66 - Alejandro Canizares (ESP), Peter Whiteford (SCO)

67 - Federico Colombo (ITA)

68 - Himmat Rai (IND), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA), Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Jamie Donaldson (WAL), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Gregory Havret (FRA).

69 - Vivek Bhandari (IND), Peter Uihlein (USA), Scott Jamieson (SCO), Oscar Floren (SWE), Marcel Siem (GER), Andrea Pavan (ITA), Anirban Lahiri (IND), Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Marcus Fraser (AUS).

70 - Chapchai Nirat (THA), Paul McGinley (IRL), Rhys Davies (WAL), Mithun Perera (SRI), Shamim Khan (IND), Joost Luiten (NED), Berry Henson (USA), Scott Barr (AUS), Marcus Both (AUS), George Murray (SCO), Soren Hansen (DEN), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Ignacio Garrido (ESP)

Selected scores:

76 - Todd Hamilton (USA)

79 - John Daly (USA)